My first theme blog of the summer. Wouldn't you know it would be a story one? I am not really good at true stories as my life just isn't that interesting. Why include them then? The answer is two fold. For one, hope springs eternal that someday my life will become exponentially more interesting and two, trying to find a good story stretches me as a writer.
So as not to stretch myself too far....today's little diddy will be about family. I know I speak endlessly about my family (mostly my kids), but I never talk much about the family I grew up in. I guess it is time you got to know a little about those people, places and things that molded me and turned me into who I am today. I don't believe this blog will read particularly like a story but in fact more like a synopsis of characters in a book. This will be good for future reference though as I think who I am and what I have turned into may actually make more sense to you all in time.
The character of my dad is played by a man that grew up in Oklahoma and spent his early years as a farmer. When he moved further North as a young adult, he went to work for the city and from there he retired. In his younger years he reminded me of Glenn Campbell. Why? I am not sure. I was never his little girl and I don't particularly remember being doted on by him....ever. He was/is a hard one to get close to and "love" is a word that seldom if ever has passed through his lips. As a child I had no way to bond with this man and any effort on my part was made even more difficult when I was in the 3rd grade and my parents divorced. When I was older though, he taught me to love musicals, westerns, football and history. Those four topics have been our focus of discussion for my entire adult life and for the most part....they have been the cornerstones of our relationship. It is our common ground.
While not a particularly humorous man, he does appreciate a good joke or a witty comeuppance. As kids, when the mood was right, my brother and/or I on occasion found ourselves with a good serve and grand slam directed in our fathers direction. We always knew when the zinger was well executed and caught him off guard as his face would turn red and he would laugh out loud. Those times were seldom, but when they magically happened....the moments were priceless.
As fathers go, I am not sure mine got the skills handbook, however.....as men go, I think he has given fatherhood his best shot. Most of the time he was simply the father we got. There were those times though, when times were desperate, that I actually felt I got the father I needed. To say that our relationship has been and still remains to this day complicated.....is an understatement.
The character of my mother was also played by an Okie. Seven years younger than my father and less than a hundred miles away from where he grew up, my mother was also a farm girl. She was beautiful, smart and had a stubborn streak a mile wide. She was the polar opposite of my father. Where he was quite, she was outgoing. She loved fiercely and wasn't afraid to use the "L" word many times a day. She was funny with a brilliant sense of humor. She loved to dance, garden and tell stories. Her profession, when not raising her family, was as a registered nurse and during her career she specialized in Army nursing, working on a tuberculosis ward, a post op cardiac care nurse and finally.....a psychiatric nurse. She was exemplary both professionally and as a mother.
My mother's life was not an easy one. She had many trials along the way. Some were self inflicted and some were just life's little surprises. Being a woman of great faith though, she faced it all with grace, dignity and prayer. She refused to ever let life best her. She did everything on her own terms....right up to her death.
No one ever laughed like my mother nor got angry like my mother. To this day....if I were to hear my first and middle name said together, my body would involuntarily stand at attention. Through it all though, I realized after she was gone, there was so much I didn't know about this woman and I still miss her every day.
Finally to round out our cast of characters.....is my brother. Six and a half years my junior, we are as different as my mom and dad. As kids we were close. He was/is a funny kid. I don't think I have ever met anyone with a quicker wit than he has. When he was little he had the kindest, tenderist heart. He loved big and had no understanding when the world didn't respond in the same way. I think he often felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. In his youth he never gave in to peer pressure and never felt the need to be "that guy" when it came to socializing and parties. He chose to stay true to what he felt was right and was both a good student and a good kid trying hard to do what he thought was right.
Perhaps life jaded him or maybe I did. I was much more social than he was and a whole lot less inhibited. I did what I wanted and seldom worried about what anyone thought. Looking back, I was probably a cautionary tale in his life. I pushed boundaries, curfews and risked groundings more than once and I am sure my mom worried herself crazy. I have no doubt that he decided to be the anti-me.
My brother always played by the rules and lived in a black and white world. At some point, I think he grew tired of not only my shades of grey but the greys of the world. He had no understanding of them. He became cynical and started biting the world before it could bite him. Today we live less than a half hour away from each other and rarely speak. He knows little of my life and I know just as much about his. It is sad, but it has become our norm.
So there you have it. These are the people who molded me and shaped my thoughts, attitudes and feelings on just about everything. I have taken both the good and the bad in my life away from my relationships with each of them and they have each given me moments that I would never ever want to live through again and moments that I will hold dear until the end of time. Yep.....this is my family.