Hey, there, Everyone! I’m super excited to get this “post on the road” this week, as it is incredibly special. I mean, stupendously, supercalifragilistically awesome. I mean, Ben & Jerry’s Super Fudge Brownie DELIGHTFUL! I’m excited because I have a guest visiting SWM today. Instead of writing some do-it-yourself Tuesday Tidbits & Tips I’m proud to offer the writings of my blogging friend and continuing blogging inspiration: Deborah Bryan from The Monster In Your Closet.
It was my fifth blog post (I’m on 73 to date)…there she was! A reader! A real, someone I didn’t know, reader! I was so excited I alerted the masses (well, I told my boss, my mom, and my boyfriend, I think). Deborah Bryan visited my blog. I don’t know how she found it…all I know is that she did. And, early on when it seemed that my writing was heading out into the land of nowhere and nobody, Deb became a faithful reader and commenter.
Ha, back then I didn’t even know it was proper blogging etiquette (and downright nice) to respond to each comment. I think I was just stunned to be “discovered” and read her words with awe. The title of her blog intrigued me…and when I saw she had written a book, A REAL BOOK (The Monster’s Daughter), I thought to myself, “Wow, this is amazing. A bonafide writer likes to read my little words about single parenting?!” This was the dangling carrot that kept me coming back for more, but over a year ago, I had no idea what I’d learn from this beloved subscriber. I had no idea how she would help me grow in spirit by not only her words but her deeds.
Awhile back I was reading different blogs, acquiring some new ones to add to my blogroll, and I got to pondering how Deb has a knack, a way, an ability to connect us all. (Just read one of her FTIAT posts.) More times than I can count when I felt like my writing probably didn’t matter much, she’d write how much she loved what I said, or quote one of my lines, and even encouraged me to not quit (do you remember that, Deb?). So, as I had these meandering thoughts of blogging past and present, I asked Deb if she’d be so inclined to write a guest post for me…the topic: Who inspires you, and why? Seems appropriate, eh?
If, after reading Deb’s post below, any of you would also like to be my guest for a day writing about your own source of inspiration, please let me know….Deb has inspired me from post number five, and each of YOU who’ve joined her visits to SWM have inspired me to keep chuggin’ along, word by word, thought by thought. Thank you, Deb, and thank you, Readers!
Now, without further ado….Deborah Bryan from TMiYC:
A godmother’s enduring lessons in love
Two women watched me grow from the moment of my very first breath through my own son’s first breath.
One of these women was my mom; the other, her best friend from high school and my godmother.
Anna infuriated me countless times in my youth. She was too strict. She was way too stern. No matter where she was in a room, she could tell when I was rolling my eyes at her and I never, ever got away with it.
As I got older, I began to see her for more than these things. I realized she sometimes bought groceries when we lacked money for them. I noticed how she showed up late for every party, not noticing because she was late but because she showed up; her lateness emphasized her thereness when no one else arrived at all. I saw how her eyes twinkled with love–even more often than they reflected frustration!–when she looked at my mom, my siblings or me. I laughed at how she inevitably pulled up to the house to visit my mom moments after my mom pulled away for errands. My childhood was full of the words, “You just missed her!”
From so many memories, there’s one kind of memory that holds my heart most firmly.
Countless times I’d hear my mom’s heated side of a telephone argument with Anna and cringe. If you’re not careful, Mom, you’re going to lose her, too, I’d think, even as I heard Anna dishing out her own thoughts on the other side of the line.
And yet, no matter how many times my mom argued with her, there was always another phone call. Always another party arrived to late. Always more twinkling in her eyes.
Her commitment to my mom, my siblings and me helped me understand that not all things are fleeting. Through witnessing her interactions with my mom, I learned that the love of true friends remains constant through easy flows and rough tides and has its foundation in forgiveness.
During my first year of law school, some years after I realized Anna wasn’t the least inclined to abandon us, she drove my youngest sister down to SoCal and dropped her off at my apartment en route to visit her own mother-in-law. A few evenings later, I stood with mouth agape as I witnessed Anna drinking milk from the carton.
“Turns out I’m a person, too,” she said with a smile.
When I did something hurtful that I didn’t even realize was hurtful, she pulled me aside and didn’t so much admonish me as encourage me to see the situation through someone else’s eyes and experiences. Her loving if reproachful words that evening broadened my view of the world in a way that made me try to think first and speak later, a skill I continue attempting to corral today.
Through my mom’s escalating mental illness and belief her best friend had turned against her, Anna remained a constant.
She was there in my mom’s last days, except when I asked her to leave.
And she forgave me that, saying she understood everything I did was in an effort to ease my mom’s transition.
Shortly after my mom died, I discovered I could have audio files made from voicemails. The only hitch was that the audio file would have to include all voicemails in my inbox. When I cleaned out my inbox to ensure that only the most important voicemails remained, I found that I was able to delete all save four.
The middle two were from my mom. The bookends were, naturally, from Anna.
It seemed appropriate that words from the woman not my mom whose love surrounded my whole family throughout my life should encompass those two painful, beautiful voicemails.
In that encompassing, I found peace in continuity. I thanked my lucky stars for the million examples of love my godmother gave me.
I have been inspired by many. I will be inspired by many. But if you ask me who my inspiration is, after my mom, the answer will forever be Anna. Anna, who, when asked if she was OK with me writing a blog about her, stated she was afraid I’d paint too kind a picture of her. With a sigh, she said, “I’m only concerned it won’t be fair and balanced.”
It is words like these that mean Anna will always, always have a hold on my heart, no matter how old I grow, how far apart we are in space, or how much we disagree politically.
Two months before my son was born, Anna visited me at my apartment. Speaking in general terms about something that bothered her, she realized that “something” applied directly to me. With a stricken look on her face, she said, “Please don’t take my general stance on things–which even I don’t always live up to!–as a condemnation of you. I think you’re wonderful, and I think you’re doing wonderful, and I love you.”
I know these are the words she spoke because I wrote them down the moment she was distracted. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing them.
When she left that evening, it was those words that lingered with me. Those words I knew I’d come back to again and again when I needed strength, or guidance, or to know how loved I am.
I may not always agree with those I love. I may sometimes be vocal in my disagreement. As I grew to understand thanks to my godmother, disagreement is but a small part of true friendship. And, like my godmother, I will always, always come back to those who love me truly, no matter how imperfectly the love is expressed on either end of the phone line.