Week 3/ October 18-24 - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 12:58 AM
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First post...

If I could do it again, I would be afraid. Afraid of messing it up and not being where we all are today. It is perfect now. Not free of stress and anger and sadness, but we are one family. There are four of us and we are one. How did I get here? What were all the choices I made that brought me to this wonderful place of love?

Some of these choices I remember and made with conviction: Should we keep the baby? YES. My world is ending...and we leapt off the cliff together...into a new world.

Some choices were made without conviction, but only hope. Should we get married?...it seems best....and we wanted to before...yes?...oh-yes...

Some choices were made with conviction through knowledge: breastfeed?..yes!

Some choices were made without knowledge of the path we were going down. Should you go to graduate school? Sounds like a good idea...yes...oh-no, I've lost you...

Some choices were made because we simply gave up: family bed...yes...I'm too tired...

Some choices were made after much deliberation: Should we have another one?yes...no...yes...no...yes... no........ YES!

Some were made ignoring that voice. Should I kiss him?...yes...I shouldn't have...oh-no...no...no...no...

Some were made knowing there was no other way wishing there could be another way: Yes, I have to tell you something...I'm so sorry...

Some were made with help: go back to school...no...I'll babysit...yes

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS? What about all those little decisions that I can't remember? The little shifts from one side of the path to another that eventually put us on this path? If I can't remember them, I don't want to do it again, because I can't guarantee that we'll be here again in this moment.

And it's all so perfect. We are all so loving right now. I have found peace. I would never do it again, first time's the charm.
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#32 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 01:13 AM
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Tiny hands, tiny fingers grasp at my cordless mouse and hurl it down the hallway, smashing against the door and landing in a heap of small parts. Not again!

Tiny hands, tiny fingers wrapped tightly around the broken red crayon, scribbling deeply into the beige carpeting. Are we out of carpet cleaner already?

Tiny hands, tiny fingers grab as many hot wheels cars as can fit, throwing with all his might at his bigger brother. Ow, that hurts!

Tiny hands, tiny fingers, meticulously peel away the tape holding school work up on the walls and doors of his bedroom. Every last one crumpled and thrown in the trash. At least he knows where the trash can is.

Tiny hands, tiny fingers, lightly pinching, squeezing, holding as he nurses, giggles, and glides off to peaceful sleep.
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#33 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 04:35 AM
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I met a man who was more like a boy than a man. He had laughing brown eyes that glinted with mischief. He liked handcuffs and cooking, and tickled me until it hurt. He reminded me of Peter Pan. We fell into life together, and he asked me to have a child with him. Laughingly I agreed.

Two summers later, we eloped to Las Vegas, one-year-old in tow. Not long after when our second child was born it was those same brown eyes, only serious now, that kept me afloat in that sea of pain. The same brown eyes that overflowed with tears of gratitude and joy when he beheld the little bundle in my arms.

Now we are four. My green eyes, two innocent pairs of the most beguiling blue, and his deep chocolate eyes with the crinkles at their corners. Loving brown eyes in which I have found my home.

"The best things in life aren't things."

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#34 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 10:26 AM
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This was a tough week. Little time and energy for writing. And, apparently, a lot of anger and cynicism. This was my most surprising and uncomfortable entry, so I thought it's the one I should post. Thanks for listening without judgment.

How (not) to throw a first birthday party (for type-A personalities)

After deciding on a theme for your party, open a new quark file and set the parameters for your invitation. Spend a few hours searching clip art and font libraries while baby sleeps. Try not to cry when your computer crashes at 3 am after downloading an obscure typeface.

Take the paper cutter down from the attic where it’s been collecting dust since your wedding. Scoring the paper isn’t necessary, but you may want to mark the x and y axes on your 4-up proof with a few faint grey dashes. Just to be sure. For a professional look, print your return address on the opposite side. While you’re at it, you may as well add three evenly spaced lines on the lower right for your recipient’s address. As a final touch, create an email address using your child’s name that redirects to a subfolder in your inbox for RSVPs.

When your postcards are in the mail, it’s time to focus on food. During bathroom breaks, thumb through last year’s gourmet magazines to find five or six challenging finger food recipes that capitalize on your party theme. Like guava-glazed shrimp kebabs or pork and raisin empanaditos. While some grocers offer pre-made delicacies that can be re-heated in under an hour, consider making the entire spread from scratch over the course of several days. And don’t forget the cake. Buttercream frosting can be made two days ahead, you know.

On to decor. You could go to one of those party supply stores on Route 1 where all the decorations are grouped by theme, or you could go just a few miles out of your way to the art supply store where the spikey-haired MassArt students go. And while you’re out, why not pop over to Chinatown for a few bolts of fabric to drape from the ceiling. Think cabana in Havana. Take the long route home to pick up candles at the tropical market for those day-to-evening guests who aren’t tied to anyone’s nap schedule.

All will go smoothly the day of the party if you stick to a schedule. Roll masa dough into 4-inch discs while baby eats breakfast. Add fillings made the night before and crimp. Read a story. Convince skeptical husband that hanging sheers will be fun. Pretend not to notice when he rolls his eyes. Let baby empty your CD collection while you import several hours worth of music. Nurse, rock, nap. While baby sleeps, quickly fry your tostones, grill your skewers, and assemble your salads in hollowed-out fruit bowls. When baby awakens, change diaper, tickle toes, walk up stairs, walk down stairs, hug the doggie, read another story, salsa dance, bang on pots. Breathe.

As your guests arrive, use the side of a stand mixer to quickly pin up stray locks and apply a thin coat of lipstick. Slip into espadrilles on your way to the door. Plant baby on your hip and smile.
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#35 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 12:17 PM
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Tiny Hands

Actually, the hands of a newborn look rather large, compared to the rest of them. I don’t know why that is, but their hands look big, somehow, too big for that tiny body. The hands of my child were set free, once he was born and out of his pool of water, his hands seemed to flail about, trying to find the edge of his existence. His tiny fists raising and jerking about; his fingernails hardening into weapons that left traces upon his face. His first marks, his first contact.

My baby liked to rest his hand on my breast. It was such a touching and funny image. My husband and I laughed at our son’s proprietary notions. “This is MY boob now, papa, in case you had any other ideas. Same goes for you, mom.” My breasts swollen to a size they never were before, and his hand so tiny upon one, resting there, while he nursed.

Power to the People! Soon, my son was saluting the revolutionary peoples of the world – casting his lot with theirs. His fist held up, fingers facing out, and his arm extended up as far as it would go (which, at this 3 months, was almost to the top of his head). Power to the People. Dude.

And then it was things – my goodness, he is holding onto that rattle! On his very own. The muscles in his hands working the memory of all the people before him. Us, with our opposable thumbs, each item before us a potential tool, the key to all the mysteries.

My son’s hands are tiny, compared to mine. I remember in those first few twilight days after birth, I was breaking apart and opening back up into the realization that I was becoming a mother, right then, in front of my own eyes, and I looked down and I saw my hands, and suddenly they were my mother’s hands. How could that happen so quickly, why did I never notice before? Their angles sharper, the skin less soft, the freckles in new formation, these hands more clearly defined than ever. The job they had to do so clear: hold this baby. And let him go.

© 2004 Stacy M. Lewis
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#36 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 01:19 PM
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None of us kids had them. Neither did my dad. Just my mom. And the dog. And we used to tease her about it. My mom and the dog. The only brown eyes in the family.
And then I met him. And he's got brown eyes. Never had anything against them. They are beautiful. Almond shaped. Eating me up.
And then I had her. And she's got them too. Hard to tell at first what they'd be. But it was easy enough to tell fairly quickly that they were staying brown.
They're absolutely amazing. Almond shaped like her papas.
When she used to let me I would hold her and stare into them. They are just amazing. So many colors. They seem to go deeper and deeper.
Far and between is it now tha she stands still long enough for me to stare into those eyes. But still, when I'm lying in bed with her, I steal a glimpse.
Mommy, mommy, she says over and over again.
Yes baby, I answer. Lying down with her in bed is still just the greatest. Getting ehr to slow down. Let me hold her. Sing silly songs. Talk about stuff. Listen to her stories. Say goodnight to all the princesses, herself included.
And then I had another. He's got mine. I would venture to say they'll be just like mine, but it's still to early to tell. Mostly green, a little blue. He turned out so fair.
Blondy. Green eyes. Where did this child come from? We're both dark. Oh he's so beautiful. His eyes light everything up.
He gives you that look. He raises his brows.
He's got you. Tugging. Pulling. You're all his. Everyone says he looks just like me. I don't know.
I always wanted someone to sing Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl to. NOw, she's done it. She is my brown eyed girl. She's my baby. My peanut.
I think ahead to what lies on that path for us.
We will have a better go of it than my mom and I. But can you blame her? Alienating her so early. Singling her out for her brown eyes. It was just a joke, but maybe not so funny.

Mama to 3:
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#37 of 45 Old 10-23-2004, 08:57 PM
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What I Know Now…

I was talking to Wendi the other day and she exclaimed, “Oh, the things I know now! I know how much more helpful I would be to new moms now – the exact ways in which I would be more helpful, the things I would do.” She just gave birth to a son two weeks ago.

I remember in my new moms group, one of the moms said, “I feel so badly now – how little help I was to my new mom friends before. It’s embarrassing, really, how little I knew, or the useless things I bought them for their baby showers.”

I gave Wendi two books: The Baby Book and After the Baby’s Birth. They didn’t get any oohs and ahhs at the shower – heck, they didn’t even get passed around the circle – but later Wendi told me: “Thank you so much for those books. They’re great! I just feel like they’re so helpful already, like they’re giving us the tools we’ll need when the baby comes, and that we will grow into them.”

I have been thinking a lot about how inadequate our rituals are around a new baby. First, it’s only about the baby. A baby shower, at which the baby is given a bunch of stuffed animals and onsies. Usually the partner or father (and anyone of the male sex, unless they themselves are a baby) are excluded… Where are our rituals for the family – the one that is becoming and forming right in front of us?

I can see reshaping the baby shower to become a Family… Blossoming, and the partner of the woman would be present and the people (not just the women) in the couple’s life would attend, offering gifts and advice and nourishment and real help, like a meal tree, errands, babysitting, massages, cleaning, for after the baby comes.

And after the birth, maybe at six weeks or twelve weeks, there could be a Family Welcoming, where the family is reintroduced to their community, as a family. A party with food, maybe an opportunity for a portrait, a time for blessings and acknowledgement that from here on out, everything is different, and that the people before us are connected in a unique way and that we are connected, too, and we support them. People could bring symbols of connection and family… milk, oak leaves, whatever.

I was talking to my husband about this idea, and we had the hardest time coming up with symbols or gestures or rituals… he commented, “That’s because our gestures are usually focused on giving people STUFF.”

Oh, the stuff! It’s so true, all the baby gear that exists! It’s obscene, really… sure, some of it makes sense and thank goodness for it. I remember me, eight months pregnant, offhandedly telling my friend, who had two toddlers, “Yeah, we’re not going to get a bunch of stuff.” She told me, “Well, you can go camping without camping gear, too, but how much fun is that, really?” She gave us a changing table and every time I did not have to bend down on the floor or the bed and regather all the changing supplies, I thanked her for it.

But it’s almost as if we make up for the lack of really useful and touching gifts and insight we might give to parents with plastic and electronic gismos that mostly serve to keep the kid at arm’s length. What I really needed to know before I gave birth was:

You can do this.
You baby will need to be held, a lot.
This, too, shall pass.
Open your heart, expand your wit, and be prepared to grow.
You will learn, and when you do, you will do better.
And that will be okay. You and your baby are in this together.

I didn’t need to know any of the practical stuff. I needed the heart stuff. Anyone, given time, can learn the tools (diapers, bulb syringe, ear thermometer, snap pants, et al), but almost no one can do it feeling like they’re only one who has ever done it before.

As independent-minded and educated as I was about anything concerning my baby, as soon as I heard another mom say, “Oh, me too.” or “My baby does that, too.” I breathed a palpable sigh of relief. Why is that?

We’re not meant to family (yes, it is a verb) alone. We’re not even meant to family only with other families (though this helps). We’re all in this together. We all got here the same exact way; when will we start acting like it?

© 2004 Stacy M. Lewis
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#38 of 45 Old 10-24-2004, 03:46 AM
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If another person tells me that my baby's brown eyes are "the eyes of an old soul", I might believe it. And I am not sure I believe in the concept of souls.
Sometimes Mya's eyes are smiling new pennies, and at others, muddied mysterious pools.
In the penny moments I think about her as an older child and adult. What will she be like? And at those pensive inscrutable times, wonder what she will remember from her life before she came to be with us? Will she hold those times and genetic memories in her eyes forever? Does she have a brother or sister with those eyes?
When those brown baby eyes flicker around the room after her brother, the kitty, a ball, or mama, stare down a stranger in the grocery store line, or gaze mindlessly at a ceiling fan, I feel the connection of past and present, known and unknown, Mya's birth family and our family. All in those eyes.


Off topic:
Billie Holiday song I love with a mention of brown eyes......
I fell in love with you the first time I looked into, them there eyes,
I knew you had a funny little cute way of playing, with them there eyes,
You'd better look out, little brown eyes, if you're wise....
They sparkle, they bubble, they're gonna get you in a whole lot of trouble
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#39 of 45 Old 10-24-2004, 05:34 AM
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Brown eyes, I really thought they would be brown eyes. I don’t know why I thought that. John has blue eyes and mine are green, so I don’t even think it would be possible. They are so big; it just wouldn’t be fair for them to be blue as well. She was handed to me, and all I saw were eyes and long black hair. Her eyes simply didn’t fit her face! Now, I look at this little girl, and her long black hair and her eyes – the bluest blue. What perfect karma trail did she leave to manifest in such a beautiful package? At least she could have been stupid, or aggressive, or selfish. Something! Yet this package wraps around such a delicate, wise and gentle consciousness. I do not feel worthy. There has been some kind of mistake. They switched the babies at the hospital, for sure. But I am not going to let on, sshhhh. I follow her wisdom, for it far outweighs my own. Her connection to the infinite is still so strong, you can almost see the cord. Then, to make it even worse, she walks softly behind me; I can hear her little feet. Snaking her arms around my neck, she presses her soft white cheek where my shoulder meets my neck, “Mama, what’s happening?” in an almost whisper.
“Nothing, my darling; yet everything.”
She leans around and smiles that adult knowing smile of hers, and green meet blue for the longest, most precious of moments. I place my hand on hers at my throat and try to speak through the lump beneath, “I wish there was a word greater than love, so I could speak that word to you.”

Hunger is political.  Wherever there is widespread hunger, it is because people with guns are preventing other people from bringing in food.  
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#40 of 45 Old 10-24-2004, 11:23 AM
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Tiny hands grab, reach, pinch, poke, pull, take, want. Every moment, grasping, trying to hold onto the world around them. Tiny fists, fingers so small they can't be real, yet they are. Each joint, perfection.

These tiny hands grow, get chubby. They stack and knock over, throw, hit, pat, hug, hold, squeeze. Chunky hands, each millimeter bringing them more, more food, their own cup, MY toy!

Bigger still, yet losing that pudginess. They pitch and catch, hold thight to bats and sticks, dolls and trees. The fingers lengthen, hold a pencil, write a name.

Hands hold another, sweaty palms, painted nails, decked with dollar store gems. Grabbing, reaching, for maturity, for their own chance.

Carressing, loving, gentle hands. Urgent, pleading, hurrying, begging. Hands creating need and want. Sweet and hot, quick and slow.

Large hard hands, thick finger encircled by a gold band, joining with slender, reddened, knowing hands, another gold band.

Tinys hands, miracle in miniature, reaching, opening, closing on a thick finger, heavily calloused and rough. Impossible contrast, impossible relationship, impossible love.

Overcome by tiny hands.
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#41 of 45 Old 10-24-2004, 03:04 PM
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Today’s my birthday. I didn’t have a party, but then I didn’t really want one. It’s not a big birthday, 36. I’d like to have parties for the biggies, 40 & 50 but today is just another day. So why do I feel sad? Maybe because it really is just another day. Maybe because I still had to do the dishes, do the laundry and take care of the baby while my husband did work around the house. Maybe I don’t need a party, but I wish I could have felt like a princess again if only for a fleeting moment. Life has turned out differently than I dreamed. It’s not bad, just different. I guess sometimes you sacrifice one thing for another, I don’t know. I do know that while I have this beautiful baby girl, I have never felt so alone. I felt alone in my pregnancy. My husband never told me I looked beautiful, in fact, he joked that I looked like a beached whale. Giving birth, even though we took a birthing class, I felt totally alone, my husband just standing there holding my hand while I screamed and pushed with everything I had in me. And now, staying home and raising her, sometimes I feel like a single mother. He works so hard for us, but sometimes his priority is work over family. So whey should I be surprised that today, my birthday, is no different than any other day. A birthday party would have been fun, but I guess I didn’t really want one or I would have organized it myself. Instead, I’m sitting here writing, my baby asleep at my breast and belly, snugged up in the soft carrier, trying to find ways to make myself grow and be a better person while my surroundings never really change. It’s just another day.
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#42 of 45 Old 10-24-2004, 03:05 PM
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Tiny hands, palms pressed against mine. It’s a picture I’ve wanted my husband to take before her tiny hands get much bigger. Though so tiny, there is a strange power to them.

Tiny hands have learned to reach around my neck and pull on the stray hairs when she is in the throws of a crying fit. How did she figure that out so quickly? How do I get a four month old, who doesn’t understand she’s hurting Mommy, to stop without yelling at her. Certainly not the solution! I keep removing her tiny hand hoping over time she’ll understand.

Tiny hands with tiny nails that grow so fast! Oh how scary it was to clip them for the first time! I still don’t like doing it, but I’ve gotten bolder and can get it done more quickly without drawing blood!

Tiny hands touch my face when I kiss her belly and she giggles her newfound giggle. I love that sound!

Tiny hands pull at my clothes when she nurses. Sometimes it’s a gentle pulling; sometimes she really yanks at them. Discovering her own strength.

Tiny hands, so kissable. How I love her tiny hands.
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#43 of 45 Old 10-24-2004, 04:11 PM
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Brown eyes

Wide, long-lashed and almond-shaped. That’s what your brown eyes look like.
When I look into your brown eyes I feel a sense of trepidation. You depend on me for everything. I am your first view of the world. If I see sadness in those expressive brown eyes, I wish to cloak you and smooth your feathers. When I look into your brown eyes I feel lost. I’m lost in a sea of innocence, of determination, of new personhood gleaming brighter than any new car.
When I look into your brown eyes, I’m surprised at the depth of my feelings. At the how far in the distance they go (infinity) and what I could do for you. More than anything in the world, I fear losing you. I fear losing you more than I fear losing my own life. Although, I do fear that too (very much) because you would lose me. And you need me. And nobody loves you and understands you more than I do. I fear losing you not only in body, but in spirit or heart. I feel a deep sense of connection with you. With you and your brown eyes.
When I look into your brown eyes, I feel a sense of joy and pride. You are my son, part of me, and yet none of me. Part of my husband and our love, yet someone completely new from anything and anyone created before. You are God’s creation and my longing.
When I look into your brown eyes, I see the man you’re going to become. I see the person whom I helped and influenced, guided and accepted. I see you!
I love you, Brown Eyes
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#44 of 45 Old 10-25-2004, 02:06 AM
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What I know now......

is to take things more easily and breathe, enjoy the ride....aaahhh.....breathe again, and again....

When we visited my grandparents the first time after my daughter was born, we drove almost an hour and a half, quite a journey in the early days! Five months old, my Nana and Papa were of course delighted to see her and hold her!
(And hear all about her latest accomplishments...)
My Nana (in spite of her arthritis) had crocheted this beautiful colorful blanket of green-pink-yellow-and-blue for Courtney,
and a pretty little white sweater
"almost too small" and still wearing it, two years later.

It was on that visit that my Papa said to me, "I can't believe you didn't go to New York to pursue the theater."
I had to say something for myself, gently from my heart.
I knew this was his way of saying, "I love you. I'm proud of you, you're talented! I thought for sure you'd do it!
Why not?" And if I had heard him say such a thing years earlier, perhaps I would have...gone...despite my fears of moving 3,000 miles away at such a young age. I told him I loved my singing and acting, doing the musicals, commercials and plays as I was growing up. AND being a mom was my dream come true above the rest. I exclaimed, "That was years ago!" (yet still happily pondered the thought and bet him... I'll be in the theater, again. Someday. I was called upon by my grandfather to share from my heart, how much I loved being a mom, the Stay at Home Mom I always wanted to Be!

During this visit, my Papa also opened himself up to me,
in another way he never had before. He began sharing about
his younger days with my grandmother; how they drove out to California just 17 and 22 years old, with not much money yet how they did it. He spoke of the trip with a smile on his face and I could see the young man--carefree, in love and happy.

Little did any of us know that just two years later, this summer, I'd be doing the same. But driving the other way. He cautioned me and said, "California's the best state! You won't find another quite so good to live in!" Yet when I got vulnerable with him, and asked about his being concerned for me, he relaxed and said, "Yeah, I want the best for you. I want you to be happy." I smiled contentedly. (When I got here, my papa said, "how beautiful North Carolina must be..."

I was always close with my grandmother, an amazing woman.
Full of compassion and love, and very beautiful. My grandparents had divorced 'back in the days' when you didn't hear about that quite so much. It was the year my mom graduated from high school and ironically, got married herself.
I never knew until that day, two years ago, what had happened or how my grandfather had felt. I learned of the day he walked in on my grandmother at work, having lunch with her boss and his touching her knee...and her laughing giddily. Lo and behold, My grandma, had fallen in love with another man! It seemed so adventurous, and daring of her...
yet I imagined she fell madly in love with him (My grampa!),
to risk it all! She never spoke of what had happened other than that Papa was "always at the theater, watching movies for hours and never home"... yet what she did say that this time, she was married "til death do us part". Looking back, I can remember seeing sadness in my grandmother's face as she spoke, and was looking down, touching her wedding ring.

Papa was sharing his feelings as a younger man, a father of three, the heartbreak and the tragedy.
He was being real with me. He opened up his heart; through all the layers, I could feel and see, understand so much. Going different ways can be harmonious and amicable yet still can cut so deep. I now understood why my Papa often said, when I was growing up, that he didn't want to go (to the play, to my voice recital...) if she was going to be there.
It's amazing how not just one generation can be hurt by not reconciling and moving on. They both had found a new love that fit them so well....

I have known my grandfather to be a kind and loving man. Though in the last few years, he's had times of anger, bitterness, becoming unglued!

What do I know now? What we may not feel at one time in our lives could very well creep up on us. It's a natural part of life to sort through, contemplate,
reflect, learn, grow... My papa is nearly 85 years old...and perhaps the anger he felt half his lifetime ago
came around to be let go. My papa wasn't trying to teach me 'something', he was opening himself up and I learned....
the time is NOW, say your truth.

I have only myself to live with and look back on the journey with. It's frightening and it's liberating. The Truth.
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#45 of 45 Old 10-29-2004, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you. Please move on to Week 4.
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