My Worst Nightmare? | Story #3

by Elouise

Better parents

I can’t remember when D sent me this cartoon. I do remember taking one look and saying I’ll NEVER post that cartoon!

So why not? Well…At first I thought the Big Momma was my mother, with my father standing behind her, and that I was the writer sitting primly if not grimly behind the writing desk.

But that’s not my worst nightmare. Before her death in 1999, Mom read twice through a book I wrote in the 1990s about myself. She then told my father he needed to take it down from the shelf and read it twice—not just once! The best part, though, was her comment to me: She was finally beginning to understand her oldest daughter.

So no. The cartoon isn’t about my parents and me.

More likely, it could be about my adult children and me. I don’t know. It isn’t an active nightmare. In fact, God has graciously given me 2nd, 3rd and 4th chances to be more like the parent I wish I’d had. I don’t get it all right all the time. When I do, I feel all the hard personal work was and still is more than worthwhile. It’s life-giving.

And yet….

I’ve often felt the tug of two generations when I write. One from my parents, and the other from the generation after me—my adult children. Will either of my adult children write books about me or about themselves? I don’t know. Yet I sometimes wonder what they would say about their lives and my role in them.

Does every parent wonder about this?

I know this isn’t a proper story. But the cartoon captures the storyline of an understandably familiar fear. Early in our marriage D and I were browsing a book store. Featured on a prominent table was a large book of poetry. I don’t remember the title. I do remember the cover. It was a photograph of a gravestone upon which was engraved only one word: MOM.

We turned the book over to learn more about the author, and were surprised to see who wrote it–the daughter of a pastor and spouse we knew socially. This daughter had clearly, according to her bio, left home in almost every way possible. The book was a sign of what had already happened.

There was a time when I feared what my parents would think if they read my writings. Any of them, but especially those that drew on my childhood, youth and home life.

I don’t fear that anymore. Why not? Partly because they’ve heard the worst. But also because there’s never just one story. My story crosses generations; it isn’t just about me. I’m still learning to tell it with understanding, compassion and truth. No retreat from reality, and no unfair punches in the face or elsewhere.

Telling the truth about myself is good for me and good for my family. I would even suggest it’s the best way to honor all of us. Like yours, my family is human. This comforts me and gives me hope for the next generation of writers, whoever they might be and whatever they might say.

* * *

5-day Story Challenge–Day 3

Thanks yet again to my blogging friend Kim for inviting me to join this challenge, and for her consistent encouragement since I began blogging!

If you haven’t already, take a look at Kim’s blog. Click here for a great place to start. Her poem plus story is heartwarming, and I’ve never seen a pail like the one in her photo.

Guidelines:

*Post a picture each day for 5 consecutive days (see note below). Attach a story to your picture.
*Can be fiction / non-fiction, or a
*Poem / short paragraph
*Each day nominate another blogger

Today I’m nominating Christy Bharath
at https://verseherder.wordpress.com/about/
I also extend an open invitation to all my followers
who have stories they’d love to tell.

*Note: Sporadic posting is fine if you’re not able to post each day. No one is obligated to accept this challenge. However, if I nominate you, I know you have stories to tell!

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1 October 2015
Cartoon created by Dan Piraro, 16 Feb 2005