"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Something of value

This is a picture of me with my grandmother, Myrtle Gail Bennett Wetherholt. We are in her kitchen and she is putting the final touches on something while I watch. (Neither my shoes nor my tushie being on the counter seemed to bother her hygienic sensibilities, so let's leave that alone.)

I adored my grandmother. She was funny and creative. Told stories of both comedy and tragedy. Crafted things. Sewed. Made her own hats in the 40s and 50s, when women wore hats with netting and feathers and bling. She was a great babysitter because she played with us. We caught grasshoppers and taught them to jump through grass hoops. We dressed up dolls. We picked up pretty rocks and pretty flowers.

She was also a vain woman and could be jealous of what others had. One of her many stories was about the time a city girl mocked her for wearing a shabby dress. She was very young, perhaps only seven, and took a rock and threw it at the girl. Hit her right between the eyes, nearly killing her. The thing about the story is there was no regret in her as she told it. That girl should not have mocked her.

Grandma also carried a grudge. If you ever crossed her, it would be a cold day south of the border before she forgave you, and she never fully trusted you again. She could be vengeful, and even sometimes manipulative to get things done her way.

I knew all this and more about her, and I still adored her. Time spent with her, even as she was being cranky about getting old and looking it, was still a treasured moment.

Why am I talking about this? Because of Anne Lamott. I follow her page on Facebook, and I recently shared one of her posts. Her posts are really long, but I love the writing in them. I love their matter-of-factness, whether she's happy or sad or cranky about something. The flow appeals to me. In the last post, I particularly loved this:

"Then my tummy roll and I wrote on the iPad for a couple hours--two old consignment store memories, in two hours, just to show you how painstaking it is for every writer. We're all in the same boat. It's lurch, flail, bog, skootch forward an inch; lurch, flail, bog, skootch. But while I was writing, I felt alive, focused and elegant." (Anne Lamott)

So I shared it, along with the thought that I'd love to just sit on a porch and talk to Anne (and hope I had something to say).

I got some rather negative, verging on vitriolic, responses. Some people don't like Anne and had to tell me so. One person didn't like an essay Anne had written that was anti-Mothers Day. Another person didn't like Anne's last book because she seemed to be a cranky self-centered MIL in it.

All valid feelings, thank you for sharing. She may be a cranky self-centered MIL. Perhaps anyone who doesn't love Mothers Day should be drawn and quartered. I shouldn't say that out loud. Although I am grateful for the card and the nice lunch/dinner from my hubby and son, I am not enamored of the holiday. Let's just say my relationship with my own mom made it an awkward occasion.

Here's the thing: I don't care. I'm pretty certain she is a combination of good and bad, of angel and demon. I might get a chance to actually meet her and see nothing but the horns. But it's really okay. I admire her writing skills. I'd like the chance to hear the words as they spill from her mind, uncensored. I'd love to talk about writing and faith and families and how the two worlds collide. Even if she was full-metal mean and we got into a huge fight, it'd be worth it.

I can't explain it. Some encounters have value.


Tameri Etherton said...

Full disclosure: I saw your post on FB and have not read Anne's blog post.

It doesn't matter. What strikes me about this is that there are people out there in the world who will see the good in people, admit that those same good people might have faults, get over that part of the person, and move on to goodness again. YOU, my friend, are that kind of person. For that, I am so grateful that you are indeed my friend. Those that need to point out faults in others make me sad. None of us are perfect, so let's share the swing set and not bicker if someone swings higher/better/ wilder than us.

By the by, I'd like to join you on the porch with Anne and perhaps a nice lemon drop martini. I think it would be a swell way to spend the evening.

Gayle Carline said...

I guess I was just surprised that they leaped into action when I shared Anne's post, just to say their piece. I wasn't really ready for sniping on Sunday.

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