Behind the curly hair I sometimes shove swiftly behind an ear or ponytail up out of my way, is my mother who also gifted me with her freckles and a love of all things written whether to read them or write them.
Reading of the challenges many face these days, I am mostly saddened whenever I see families split apart because they don’t like what someone is doing, writing their lives or healing the generations with new, healthy learnings.
What will this matter in 100 years? Really, what does it matter now if nobody knows who they are or their names are not used in any writings? It doesn’t. We are, none of us, nearly as important as we might imagine ourselves. Still, it is apparently reason enough to mock a person who is doing what they can because they know not what else to do. Writing on, past the ridicule and belittling, I write not because I want to hurt a soul but because I cannot stop.
Growing up in a musical home where singing and lyric writing were as daily as the aroma of a pot of boiling potatoes with salt herring or seeing the patterned oil cloth floor with all the nicks and scuffs from kids, dogs and love, left me with few options for avoiding the arts.
The truth is, I believe writing is in my genes as much as anything else is. What we see is what we become.
Some days I am my grandmother who sputtered and shot off before she gave her words much thought. I know this because my mother was my grandmother, too, and this is what she passed on to me. Many days I blurt things I wouldn’t ordinarily but then, being creative, there really is no such thing as “ordinary.”
My frustration with the patience it took to learn a musical instrument found me plinking out “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” on the piano when I was in middle school and the path to musical stardom stopped right there.
Art was my favorite subject. Well, second only to English Literature. While I didn’t really have to try hard to make art, I did win First Place for my pastel entry in the Centennial Celebrations of Ontario where I went to elementary school. My first “real” dance was with a boy from my school and the crowd of adults cleared away as we did our free style dancing, the likes of which neither of us had ever exhibited beyond the hominess of our family living rooms.
Memories of sunburn so bad the blisters swelled as large as tennis balls (or it seemed like it at the time but then I was a lot smaller) and Mom let me sleep with her in her always fresh-linened and pretty smelling bed to keep me on my stomach so she could mind the blisters and bring me cold sips of water and ginger ale all night long.
Delicacy is what you think of when considering rare or delightful foods but when it comes to people, no one likes delicacy. To be delicate and fragile or vulnerable in any way is a flaw in the eyes of many. Yet, from my skin to my inner layers, I am a delicate woman who may have big bark when she goes off but my immune system and the inherited intestinal disorders lay me open to catching anything and everything going. I don’t know why others in my family are so tough but even H1N1 struck me and no one around me got it while my bronchial tubes became infected, I was sick for twelve weeks. That was a long three months.
Still, in the midst of that illness where I was wheel-chaired on and off the plane home, I managed to muster the strength to find an apartment, pack all of my belongings and leave my verbally, mentally and emotionally abusive husband. This, I would not, repeat as Mom had, clinging to a man who might treat her less than she would wish to be treated only because she, inside, felt she didn’t deserve better. My biggest problem was myself believing his lies.
It is easy to see why Mom and Granny could be so caustic. What else could they do? It wasn’t the time for women leaving abusive men… even to be pregnant unmarried back then was a sin.
Make no mistake, I am not saying my father was physically abusive but he was a hot-head and my mom was hyper -critical so match to gas and boom. Mom and Dad parted, finally, when I was newly a teenager after we had driven all the way to BC from Ontario to escape a woman who was after Dad. Two things happened to us after that. There was no place left to go except into the Pacific Ocean so we, ripped from everyone and everything we knew, found ourselves in a strange place all alone. Together.
Karma is not just a bitch as the trendy like to say but it’s a double bitch. Just years after my parents parted and both found some peace in their lives with new partners, my father died. It wasn’t long after that we learned our stepfather was not the good guy he portrayed at all.
By then, I had left home and was already forging my way in the world. Little did I know when I found my hot headed ex who was also hyper critical, it would feel so much like home, I would marry him and his abuses.
Much, much later, I would learn he was as evil as my stepfather and find myself in a situation I could never even have imagined let alone write as fiction. One day, I hope to be strong enough to write this work. I swear, if I can do it, it will out rival Fatal Attraction. Except no bunnies will be boiled in my story.
The ending will paint a history of strong women who may have found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and yet, they lived. They not only lived, they passed on what they knew, each generation learning from the other and here we are today, the creative and literal DNA that courses through our veins, the blood of me and my siblings, is a long, strong line of people who do not crumble easily. People who know how to survive and taught us the same.
The beginning of the story will be when I set the words to pages of all the lives before mine that made me “me.” My own belief is that the unique combination of nature and nurture is why I am still here today, writing this now.
Working hard to overcome fruitless cycles of emotional abuse and mind gaming, I hope I have altered the legacy for the better yet again. Passing anything on to my children is not a possibility as I never had any of my own. Yet my world was blessed with many beautiful children whose lives I was honored to be a part of and still am to this day.
Sometimes not planning your life out works things out for the best in the end anyway. I’m sure if I had children, they would need decades of psychological “undoing” from the brokenness I inadvertently would have passed on to them and the brokenness my ex would have verily passed on to them. Overcoming your past, I have found, is not the problem so much as walking tall into a future meant just for you.
Sideways is the way I have landed in many good situations in my life with no planning involved but preparation for something greater always - I could just feel it, that there is something greater to being here – via learning or personal development. Like magic, opportunities opened for me to try things and achieve things I never even dreamed possible as a child. I really didn’t think forward much at all as a child. When I think of it now, I think, perhaps, I couldn’t see anything much worth looking forward to.
Writing chose me, I did not choose it. It is this crooked path I found myself on as I read in first grade the Dick and Jane readers, saw the effect it could have on thirty young minds, all still and fascinated together, and I fairly shouted out to the teacher, “I know what I’m going to do when I grow up! I’m going to make books!”
Still writing my way through life as and when I can, I plan to write more of this multi-generational family where music, creativity, reading and writing were as regular as oatmeal. When I finish, you will see that everyone was just doing the best they knew how with their own broken set of inheritances and between the cracks of brokenness seeped songs, laughter and love, pure love with roots so strong and fast that, while some may wish to deny them, they hold as fastly as if we were them… because, really, we are.
More than that, you will see the love shining through the years, the fears and the strengths of everyone who went before culminating in a joyous ending where everybody wins because everybody loves somebody else. Isn’t that why we are all here, really…
On one of my mother’s visits to the west coast after she moved back home and many of us had settled as adults here, she insisted she could climb the cherry tree in my back yard to collect the rest of the fruit. “If I can’t get up there, Mom, you can’t,” I said. I no sooner turned my back to tend a child I was day caring at the time and she was gone.
From up between the branches of the cherry tree she grinned at us and said, “See, I told you I could do it!”
This is the lineage I am proud to call home.
My crooked writing path and me are not finished with one another yet… no, not by far. Someday I, too, will say, “See, I told you I could do it!”