Soon it will be time to take my mother to my dad's and my sister's graves, Just as my parents did for my grandmothers, to go and plant a flower, place a flag, have a thoughtful, silent moment of communion and remembrance.
My sister is buried on the shore of a lake. Her gravestone is white marble, carved into the very old fashioned arched shape, with the image of a weeping willow, a traditional mourning motif, carved into it along with the phrase, "She was truly loved".
It's true, she was truly loved. She was everything I am not: organized, a good student, studious and serious about education. I was a senior in High School when she died.
She most feared, before she died that I would end up marrying young, having babies and living in the boonies. She wanted me to aspire to an education and a career. I managed to manifest everything she feared...but the context is different. I married young, yes, but to a lovely and loving man, who honors mes still over 26 years later. I did have babies...3 of them, and while I chose to be a SAHM, I also did so very consciously weighing the values and the options and deciding what my goals as a mother were. So in a way...there is irony to her fears...as they turned out to be a fulfilling path for me.
Like her, I returned to the old ways. She became a museum interpreter, learned to spin and weave, used herb teas, did plant dying, and practiced those sorts of old home arts. But all these were mere motifs in her life, decorating it, while I took another path: to integrate old ways into my everyday living...using herbs and making my own preparations for healthful living, having homebirths, making do with subsistance living to keep our family footprint on the land, lighter; growing my own food some, using wild plants to supplement diet when we were very poor, and so on. She did pave a way for me...and my path is a simply variation taking what she learned some steps further...the older ways for me, were not studied toward a degree or diploma, but they illuminated a way of life. She showed the way though. I am grateful.
My dad died when I was living out west for a while. That was hard, but I made it through it.
Over the years since he died, I learned many things about him. Some very dark and unpleasant, and in fact, he had touched me inappropriately once and only once, because I avoided any opportunity to be with him alone, till I left home. I forgive him, but still don't understand it. It's been implied over the years that he attempted some inappropriate act with my sister also, but I never did hear more about that, and I will never really know. It's as if with both of us he had momentary loss of sanity and did weird stuff...once, and either by our own actions to counter any further contact with him alone, or by chance or whatever...it never happened again.
But the good stuff...all the laughter, the singing, the appreciation of nature, the love of animals, the values of honesty and kindness...he really did teach my sister and I so much that was good. He also loved to grow a garden of flowers and vegetables. I value that too. He gave us good basics as a parent.
He served our country in the South Pacific in WW2, and was deeply and invisibly wounded and damaged. He could never talk about it...except to share about the funny stuff, about his buddies, about the travels, and wonders of that part of the world. There was also an allusion to some prisoner guard duty he pulled and hints of bad things he had to do to the prisoners. He never could get that off his chest, to lighten his heart. In the end he had a massive heart attack. Ironic that his heart just couldn't carry the burdens anymore.
But over the years, I have passed through many emotions at him...and have come to forgive the stuff about me, and my sister and the things about my mother also... bad things he did to her on all levels.
I can't confront my dad for all the offenses, but he, like my sister, has come to me in dreams...and I realize that where they both are, the negativity of the past is already gone...and it is healed if I let it be. They have let it be. They have both shown me that clearly.
So I value all the good that they brought to my life and while I acknowledge the bad, I choose to glean the lessons from the bad and let the rest be chaff in the wind. The good enriches me even now and I share all that with my children...and they hear it all, the bad and the good, because there is value in both when put in perspective. But it takes lots of time to get there.
Sorry to have rambled so much.
Joyce in the mts.