Purely Inspirational-My First Guest at SWM

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.

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29 responses

  1. Pingback: My godmother, my inspiration « The Monster in Your Closet

    • I still struggle with it sometimes. Nineteen days out of twenty, it comes so naturally. The twentieth day, for some reason, I find it harder to let disagreement slide off my back. Writing this out helped, though. I’m trying to be better about acting as if I believe it twenty days out of twenty, even when I don’t feel it as deeply one of those days.

  2. “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.” I love this line…I’ve been through some tough stuff with one of my dearest of friends, and we survived, made amends, and moved on. It’s real, it’s true, and no matter how far in miles we are apart, it will never fade.

  3. This brought a tear to my eye, Deb! What a wonderful woman; I’m so glad you have Anna in your life. The symbolism of the voicemail ‘bookends’ and her fear that you’d paint “too kind a picture” of her are so moving. This, too, speaks volumes: “…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.”

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I also loved the introduction of you! You really are so special, Deb, for making us bloggers feel welcome and worthwhile right from the beginning! 🙂

    • I was so driven when I found out that voice recording could be made. I couldn’t think about anything else until it was done. I listened to so many voicemails, only to then listen to the ones left over . . . and weep. It was such a beautiful thing to find those ones left. I haven’t listened to the recording for many, many months, but I am comforted to know it exists.

      As for the other part? Thank you so, so much. ♥

    • What I think is that you should be doing that RIGHT HERE. I could seriously do with a hug or eight from you.

      I’ve gotta say, your commenting on this somehow eased a load off my shoulders. It’s one of the crummiest things I’ve ever had to do, to ask Anna to leave (thanks to Mom’s ongoing paranoia and agitation every time Anna came). I bawled while I wrote those couple of sentences, but getting it out helped. As did having you read this and not reflect for one second upon that horrible, heartbreaking moment.

      I love you, Mack. If you can’t be right here (or I there), I’m glad you’re out there.

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