Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Family Boat

Ever been on a boat?  I was practically born on one.  First a little fiberglass fishing boat and finally a full fledged, well respected, fish finder installed, skiing allowed, macho boat.  In my childhood, water and boating was a given.  Fishing, part of the breath our family took.  Boats of all kinds were good and valued.  We fished off them, swam off them, skied behind them and generally built our family experieces around them.  Boats.  I remember the time my mom decided that she would try to ski.  She got into the water with her skies on, held the rope and hollered, "go" as she had heard us say many times.  What she didn't do, was let go of the rope when she fell.  The boat drug her, almost drowned her, because she just didn't let go.  It was probably symbolic of her committment to all of us, but we had to drag her back to shore and she never tried again. 

But the "family boat" had significance.  Our family bonded in helping one another.  Providing time to play, to fish, to picnic.  Time to explore the shores.  The boat held us up in the midst of the deep, deep unknown. 

One day my sis, Jed's amazing sister, said, "We're all in the same boat, the family boat."  She wasn't aware of the history I'd had with "family boats."  She was referring to being there when being there was critical.  And she's has been there, over and over and over with a paddle and sometimes a very large outboard motor, but she has been there when we were in the deepest unknown waters. 

I've had many recent experiences with the "family boat" and it's been quite lovely.  As was in my childhood, the family boat has kept us afloat and looking toward future dreams.  There have been many times in the past three years that we felt we would drown, but the, "family boat" has been there, throwing out a saving rope. 

My family is extremely varied in it's spiritual beliefs.  They range from genuine respect, to disgust, to reverence and complete resignation. There's also the doubters, the put downers and oh, yeah, the ones who just can't believe the others aren't where they are.  I figure God can handle it and knows the heart of each and every one of the ones I love. 
I'm just thankful that I have a boat, and that at any time, one or many of my family are in it, helping us move it to more peaceful waters.  Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, Sisters, Daughters, Sons, even grandchildren, and some that have no official family title, but are more family than friend.  Our "family boat" is floating.  Thanks to the many who have given it bouyancy and fuel.  We float and explore the shores.  

The Family Boat

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mother Daughter Experiences

When my mother was my age, she was dead.  Dead on a roller coster of hope that she wouldn't be.  Dead just the same.  I was a pitiful  thing, trying to be so strong.   It was quick.  Spot on her arm.  Dead three months later.  Malanoma.  I thought I had a lot more time with her.  Time to get mellow and give  up all the things young women hold against their mothers.  But I didn't and I tried to make up for it by changing her wig before her "showing" and singing "Amazing Grace" at her wake.  Truth is, every mother's day I cry just a little bit.  Not so people can see, but in my heart, deep down where only the Gods know the truth. 

My mom was amazing.  Most mothers are.  Mine was snow white.  Black hair, beautiful with lots of little people who loved her.  She was a kindergarten teacher and beloved by many. When she died so suddenly, it was as if the fairy tale just quit.  It quit for the children, and it quit for me. 

We all, my dad, my brothers, all the grandchildren, and me, we all gave up on the fairy tale. 

It took years for us to be different.  We kept holding on to her.  She was so powerful in the "who we are."  I can't speak for my brothers, but I have gotten a grip.  Mom was amazing.  Mom was an energy force that moved us all to be greater than we expected us to be.  Unassuming as she she was, her power was magnificant.   

My daughter and I just had the most amazing mother daughter experience.  Mothers and daughters love each other from the very beginning, but  they grow apart. Apart becomes real.  Apart is important and critical.  But, coming together again is a gift.  Some never get there. 

We had our journey.  It was perfect.  Genes oozed.  Laughter rose.  Memories creeped into our skin.  All the stuff that was once creaky, didn't creak.  All the stuff that was once careful, wasn't. 

Mothers and daughters need these times.  We are to grow up and live happily ever after, but that propably won't happen.  We will probably have very hard times, times when our energy is sapped and our spirits are stripped of  color.  Times when crying takes more energy than we have and screaming just doesn't have room. 

I've been jealous of the mother/daughter teams that have come into my shop.  They seem so resolved.  My mother died before I forgave her for loving me enough to not like me sometimes.

I had no forgiveness journey with my mom, but my daughter and I  climbed in a beat old van and miles later, we knew the power of life with the connection of birth. 

Life starts out with lots of promise.  It's followed by some amazing journeys, some great, some perfectly terrible.  If you are blessed with a daughter, life is eased a bit.

It was my mom who led me to God.  She would say, " the week just goes better when we go to church."  We did and it did.  Mom was a power that has probably grown greater through the years, but her bitty stature and her mighty soul took charge of her family and gave history our farm experience.  I wish I had had a road trip with my mom.  What a joy thaat would have been. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Love vs Responsibility

My grandma lived to be 99.  Jed's mother lived to 100.  People who live this long probably get wise.  Once I asked my grandma what it was like to get this old.  She said boldy that, "there's no difference at all, except all your friends die."  I was young and didn't see the wisdom in her statement, but it has stayed with me these many years. 

I don't even remember what my grandpa died of.  I was seven and he just died.  He was the first dead person I had ever known and I really tried to cry.  I mean, I really tried.  I sat in the church pew next to my cousin and begged for tears.  My cousin and I, who had spent hours together in our grandpa's office playing with his important papers (he was a county judge), we tried to cry, but we just couldn't.  We were seven.  Seven year olds don't cry unless they are hurt, and we weren't hurt.  We were just confused. 

Sometimes life is like that.  You can't decide whether you are hurt or just confused.  You're supposed to behave a certain way if it's one and another if it's not.  So, here we are years later all wrapped up in another drama.  Are we hurt or just confused.  Should we beg for tears or is that just a waste of good time and energy?

We are about to enter year number four.  Next week will be three  years since the ladder wrote our history and created a new life for us.  Ladders are rather omnious things.  One must take them seriously.  We are neither hurt nor confused.  Most of the time.  But, there are dark and ugly times when neither seem to give justice to the power of the moment. 

Being thrown, or fallen as is our case, into a new life, one has to reevaluate everything.   Everything comes up for the jury call.  So when times are dark and energy is low the questions come.  Is this caregiving or is this love?   Is this committment or is this intimacy?  It this real?  There's more.  It's the questions of life.  Can this go on?  Will the committment one day end?  Can love handle this?    All questions of capacity.  Capacity to keep on keeping on.   Life and the way things are.

It's hard.  Our life.  Lifting.  Feeding.  Giving.  Taking.  It's hard and it's remarkably easy.  Sometimes we don't know whether we are hurt or confused.  Sometimes we don't know if we're angry or grateful.  Sometime the toilet doesn't work.  But we're pretty clear on the love thing.  There's rage, there's anger, there's vulgarity and even doubt.  But, the love thing...we are blessed completely with that seeping oil.  Flowing through vulgarity and doubt and confusion and hurt.  It's not responsibility, it's love.  It's the one who filled the other who feeds the other.  Responsibility be dammed.   


We have very bad credit.  Almost all of my life, that equated with the fact that we are bad people.  Bad credit equaled bad people.  Well, if not bad, at least poor managers, people who made poor decisions... on the edge of low life.  I have a very vivid memory of my childhood community.  One poor sucker filed bankruptsy.  What a bad man he was!  "Why, he was running away from responsibility and cheating almost everyone."  "Don't be like him," was the unspoken and powerful message. 

When did the whole credit reporting thing begin?  Guess I'll have to research that, but it most certainly began out of misguided trust and failed agreements.  Regulations must be put in place.  So, here we are 2012 and for most of our adult life we have had a number, a number based on our behavior.   If we paid the bills on time, didn't over extend, made "sound" financial decisions, yadda, yadda, yadda,...we got a high number by the powers that be.  Once, that was very important to me, a matter of pride.  "We have a very high credit score," was a casual conversation piece to be interjected at times where others would nod and acknowledge our wise accomplishments.  It was a shield, an armor.  High scores set one apart from the masses.  Oh, those masses.  They really should make better decisions. 

That was then.  Now?  Now doesn't think much about the masses and bad decisions.  Now knows the truth.  An artificial number, that everyone who makes decisions about your future looks at,  says nothing about who you are.  Nothing.  It doesn't know your heart or your value system.  It doesn't know your experiences or your joy.  It doesn't know your committment to responsibility and it doesn't know  your faith. 

We were one of them.  The ones who looks ascantly at the "low numbers."   Now,we are one of them, the, "low numbers."  When I taught 6th grade we studied Easter Island.  There are many theories of the social interactions of the island, but one was the theory of the long ears and the short ears.  Not to go into the history, but the two of them, looked different and had different cultural experiences  which  created annimosity among themselves.

I feel like a short ear.  A "low number."  Our society has the, "high numbers," and the "low numbers."  And, we have a system in place that sets the highs on one plateau and the lows on another. 

It's an interesting way to live, as a, "low number," especially having been one of the other for all of my life.  I hear my father's disapproval almost daily. 

But the truth is, it doesn't matter.  Sure, it makes life a little like trugging through mud, or taking the jeep through the sand trail to get to the cabin, but in the nature of who we are, being a "low number" or a "high number" is probably a lot like being a "long ear" or a "short ear."  It's just what happened to you while you were trying to experience life.  Doesn't have anything to do with pride or being a good person.  Probably wouldn't even raise the disapproval of a father. 

So, when we want to buy a house, we're  "short ears."  We just can't.  It's not there for us.  The system in place says, "You must not be our type.  We cannot trust you.  You are a threat.  You are a "short ear."  We must protect ourselves from you. 

So, we go along, being short ears, but behaving no differently than we were when our ears were long.  Having no different values, believing in committment and hand shakes and honesty.  But our ears have been lobbed so we have learned to cower and say, "some things are not available to us."

Credit scores are the human attempt to see into the heart of man.  Thank God our hearts are viewed clearly by the All Seer.  God, the All Seer, sees the high numbers and the low numbers and the long ears and the short ears.  He looks into their hearts, and he gives them the ability to laugh at the other.