Wednesday, August 25, 2010

White Lace And Lies

August 25 would have been my mom and dad's 59th wedding anniversary. Dad has been dead almost 15 years now and mom about 18 months. If there was any affection between them, I never really saw it.  Perhaps  that whole "have to get married" thing really was just feared obligation and not love. Dad cheated many times, had a child with another woman and drank off and on. Mom stuffed her mouth and hid in bed for days at a time, while us kids muddled thru.

Thankfully, I had grandparents who lived next door or upstairs in a duplex, because they gave me the cuddles and directions I needed at times. I have always considered my grampa more my dad than my dad anyways. Grampa taught me how to cook, how to keep house, how to throw a fastball, how to hem a skirt, how to score the Tigers games and how to sing in French. Maybe dad just didn't know how to be a dad, as his parents were just like him. But I loved him anyways. Mom was spoiled silly as the only surviving baby to live past a few months. She had the options to do all those things grampa taught me and could have passed them on, but somehow it never happened. But I loved her anyways.

One of the saddest things I ever heard my own daughter tell me was about 12 years ago when she revealed that her gramma told her she never loved her husband. I think I felt more torn up for my daughter, who shared her birthday with her grampa and a form of  his name. For many years they were best buds and maybe dad thought he was making amends to me thru her. As my daughter reached maturity, my dad froze her out.  There were times I thought he was ready to leave mom (but his girlfriend would not leave her husband either) as all the kids were adults, even if I was the only one who actually left the household and established my own family and home.  To this day, I know those ill spoken words from my mom to her granddaughter haunt her.

While composing this blog tonight , I see the full moon pausing  behind wafting breathy  clouds and wonder what each of my parents thought at the dusk of their wedding ceremony back in 1951. Did they gaze out at the quarter moon with vibrant dreams of a future together or did their eyes fill with tears knowing they  both perpetrated a lie before God and family? be continued

Friday, August 20, 2010

Starting Off On The Right.....And Left Foot

I was a baby of the 1950's but consider myself a child of the 1960's.  Growing up in two very confusing and effecting decades certainly shaped many parts of my life today. My 1950's were nothing like Ozzie And Harriet or Donna Reed. My mom didn't have pearls around her neck, she didn't drive and there rarely was anything baking in the kitchen. Mom, a graduate of a small Catholic school in Flint, Michigan,  was a housewife.  My dad didn't have a briefcase nor did he read the paper in his favorite chair after a hard day at the office. Dad, who many years later I was to discover could barely read, was a shop rat who had grown up on a working farm northwest of Flint in Saginaw Country. He spent his entire working career in various laborings for General Motors. There was a stretch in the late 1950's when he was laid off for almost 3 years.  As a young kid, I often stood in the cold while he carried a picket sign as the Union was on strike. That is probably where I acquired my hate of cold weather AND having to stand in line! I just wanted to spend some time with my daddy, even if I was environmentally  miserable.

Mom and dad had to get married. I was never supposed to know but when my gramma died in 1966, I came across my parents' wedding license. It said August 25, 1951. Sis came along in March of 1952.  When I asked what it meant, I was told to shut up. I thought then as now, so what?  I only wondered why she had always told me the wedding was in 1951, when it was obvious from the legal standpoint, it wasn't. Years later she told me she didn't want to look bad in front of my gramma's friends. So many of them were very judgmental in those days and would count the weeks and months  after a wedding to put you in a category of "have to"  or "didn't have to".  This group was too refined to call it a shotgun wedding, at least my mom's side of the family was in that category. Dad's side of the family accessed it as  that is the only reason you got married!  Even funnier was the fact many of these biddies (I use that word with highest affections-one being my godmother) were at the wedding AND the baby shower. They all knew how to count, mom!

Twenty one months later, I decided to rush myself into the world two months early. My dad was hunting somewhere in the northern woods  with his brothers, but  he let a few know the location of sorts. The State Police tracked him down, but I had already made my debut. Tiny, very tiny, I spent the first 6 weeks of my life in an incubator.  Later in life, I heard the story of how my mom went thru labor twice with me. To this day I am still quite confused about this allegation. The whispers and silences when I walked in on tea time discussions and my recent acquisition of my birth certificate with odd entries have left many questions. I have wondered if perhaps I had a twin who died at birth.  My certificate says no previous live births YET I had a sister almost two years old at home supposedly elated to meet me? Why also, reference whispers  to a 2nd labor? I will never know as all concerned parties are now dead. Except for me and I don't remember a damned thing of that day!

Perhaps as a sign of what was to come, my dad carried me swaddled  from hospital to car in late January of 1954 about two weeks before my actual due date UPSIDE DOWN. I didn't wail. I didn't squirm.  I didn't ever make a peep.  On arrival at my grandparents' apartment (we lived atop Freeman's Grocery store with several one bedroom flats connected by a long lofted porch covered in tar  flooring that wrapped around the building), dad unwrapped my feet (everyone had a great laugh) and my sister took one look at me, and spun on her heel.  HER daddy was there and there was no other person  in the room to her. be continued

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Woulda Coulda Shoulda. I still remember the first time I heard that phrase. It was from the early career emoting of a young actor in  the 1965 film Inside Daisy Clover. I had read the novel and was intrigued enough by the story to seek out the film at the local downtown  theatre . This was before ratings were installed on films so I was not restricted and didn't need a parent/guardian to babysit me that day, altho I was barely 11. With my dimes and nickles for my ticket and the Kewpee burger I snuck inside, I took my aisle seat the same as I do today. I was especially happy that one of my favorite actors was playing Daisy. Natalie Wood completely took over the screen in just about any movie she had made until that time.  But this young man who seemed so sure of himself in his roll stunned me. As many of his acts of defiance to his boss, he wraps Daisy up in  adult lies and subtle truths as he steals her away in elopement and ruins his life and in many ways hers. Daisy has many days of  Woulda Coulda Shoulda. Until she takes her life back for her own, amid coffee, sand and her extreme statement of never being owned again.  That young actor who gave her a tiny bit of  defiance as a catalyst was Robert Redford--who has never backed down to anyone in real life.

We all have regrets. We all have a guilt  that has a  control over us that we don't understand. We all have dreams we let go,  dreams  that turned into nightmares, dreams that turned into realities we loved and are much more than we ever hoped for. The remorse of a life not fully lived  or a day or hour lost along the way to other joys and distractions is a part of each person.

I ask would you trade some of the good times, the one day or year or lifetime that was better than expected for a chance to go back for one that you had to or was forced to let go? Do you let the Woulda Coulda Shoulda consume you,  do you let it pass to  more regrets or do you  realize that you perhaps replaced a big heartache or two  with many small satisfactions and bits of happiness that help plug the sieve that is somehow draining  your life?

This blog I hope, will allow me to expose the Woulda Coulda Shoulda in my life and free me from the pain that it inflicts at times.  I want to release the demons, the things that control my life to the point of making me ill. Daisy's last words in the film are "Someone declared war !" Then she sips her coffee, looks back and tosses the cup on the beach.  

Today, someone declares war!