Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Mother

Dethroned

The winter Olympics are upon us! So just for today, here are a couple of old photos from my past that tell a bit of a story about my family of one father, one mother and four sisters. Nothing profound, unless you’ve been there and understand the dynamics of being dethroned.

First: I’m the oldest, 10 years old judging by the shape of my body parts. An early bloomer as they said back then. Sister #2 is 8 1/2 years old, and Sister #3 (Diane) is 4 years old. Sister #4 is still a baby. And yes, my hair is in rubber-hive curlers. An attempt to make my hair look pretty.

It’s bad enough to be the first-born dethroned three times by the arrival of baby sisters who suddenly grab all the attention. But to be forced to give up my rightful seat on my brand new adult-size bike when I was 10 years old got my goat. Not that I let it show very much in the photo, but I guarantee you, I’m not happy in photo #2.

Nor is Diane, Sister #3, the youngest in the photo. She has totally checked out of the happy sisters mode and is enduring the shame of having been booted from her larger wheels to this ridiculously tiny baby tricycle. I love her for her honesty. She has her hands defiantly clasped in her lap–not on the handlebars as requested by my father. Sister #2 is being as cooperative as possible, having given up her two wheels for three.

And there I am, boiling with indignation on the inside (yes, I remember this well) but ‘calm’ on the outside, while my mother poses for my father on MY new bike! I wonder what was going through her mind?

Small stuff, you say? Not to me. Which is already more than enough said.

For now, Happy Friday and Happy Winter Olympics! May the best women and men win, and those dethroned be gracious and appropriately distressed.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 9 February 2018
Photos taken by my father, Fall 1953, in our front yard near Savannah, Georgia

Living and Loving the Last Chapter

No more unlived history for me. I’m in the last chapter of my life. Which means my last opportunity to live a full life instead of the half-life I’ve often pursued as a good girl/woman.

First, in honor of my mother, I owe myself at least two changes:

  • I must fall in love with myself. For better and for worse; in sickness and in health; for as long as my life shall last; honoring and respecting myself; cherishing my body and honoring my spirit.

I think of it as marrying myself. Loving myself the way God loves me—just as I am. And the way D promised to love me—just as I am. If I can’t do this, my ability to love my neighbors as I love myself is greatly impaired if not dealt the kiss of death.

  • I must relentlessly pursue my dream of being a writer. Not past dreams, but my dream for right now. For this last chapter of my life.

All my adult l life I believed in my skills to help others attain their dreams. I did not believe in my ability to go for large dreams of my own. I was ‘too busy.’ Especially when it came to writing. I was busy giving in to fear, disbelief, and the call of tasks needing to be done.

My mother’s later years included several strange episodes during which she lashed out against my father with language I didn’t know she possessed. To my shock, he backed down. I’m hanging onto those few brilliant moments when I believe my mother put her own well-being and her own wishes first and communicated this in no uncertain terms.

I don’t foresee a fight like this with D. I do, however, foresee standoffs with myself for which I’ll need grit and guts.

Second, I must do for myself what I did for all those 15 boys and men I wanted to impress.

For years, beginning as early as 5th grade, I offered them a list of invaluable services. No cost and no contracts. Why? Because I desperately wanted to feel needed, alive, appreciated, attractive (at least not repulsive), and less lonely.

So what did that look like?

  • A listening ear, empathy and feedback
  • A sounding board for men’s ideas
  • Interest in their lives and their dreams
  • Affection and emotional support
  • Admiration and affirmation of their importance
  • New ideas—mine—free of charge!
  • Proofreading and editing skills
  • Feedback on how to improve their arguments, their writing, their sermons
  • Uncounted smiles and nods of agreement and understanding

In other words, like millions of other women, I gave away what I desperately needed for myself.

Ironically, even though these men affirmed me, I didn’t believe them. Not because they weren’t telling the truth, but because I didn’t believe that in the long-run, what I had to say or write really mattered that much.

Today I’m offering and making available to myself the same tangible and intangible services. Yes, I still have D. His love and loyalty are in place. The missing person in this picture isn’t D. It’s Elouise.

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 8 February 2018
Image found at njculibrary.wordpress.com

Food, Love and Affection

Fall 1965. Sometimes it seems I’ve died and gone to heaven! I’m living with a man who knows, loves and respects me. He doesn’t seem a bit perturbed about things I experience as shameful or diminishing. You know: my hair not looking ‘good enough,’ Read the rest of this entry »

Meet Mrs. Hanks

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It’s 1952. Mrs. Worth Hanks has just answered the door bell. Her gray hair is piled on her head, with wispy bits escaping here and there. She’s wearing eyeglasses, and has bright red lipstick on her lips, slightly smeared. Her clothes are a little wrinkled and she looks Read the rest of this entry »

weather-beaten house

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weather-beaten house

empty nests brilliant blue sky–

what songs lined your walls?

 * * *

Music was huge in our home:  piano practice, singing grace before each meal, old phonograph records played over and over.  Mother taught us to sing in three-part harmony while she accompanied us on the piano or a small portable electric organ.  She also played and taught us children’s songs from the old Childcraft songbook for kids, and silly kindergarten songs with all the motions.

Three memories come to mind when I think about music that lined the walls of my childhood homes. Read the rest of this entry »

aging southern belle

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aging southern belle
matriarch of the river
beckons me homeward

* * * * *

Summer 2009
the day of my father’s memorial service
three cars full of family members drive out to the old house
at the end of the road Read the rest of this entry »

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