perils of memoir.

Before I begin, may I do a quick, do-gooder, feel-good plug? My friend Angie is desperately trying to raise money to send a sweet, handsome, good mannered young man to a private school. He's being bullied at his current school, and he has a life story that'll break your heart if you knew all the details. You may not have the money to donate, but if you could, that would be fantabulous. If you can't, would you consider sharing this link with people you know, or people you know who might be able to donate? You'll earn 10,000 good Karma points, I promise.

Okay, now on to my thoughts about perils of memoir:

Sooo...you know how, a few days ago, I wrote a piece here about my experience of going to Presbyterian Sunday school? And you know how, a few days ago, in the piece I wrote about Presbyterian Sunday school, I sort of threw my own mother under the bus for making me go to Presbyterian Sunday school? Yes. Well, here is why we don't write about our parents until AFTER they are dead:

Obviously, my memory is faulty. In my mother's defense, I DO remember her teaching a Sunday school class at this church. And I remember it because she taught her students either about Passover or Moses taking his people out Egypt or something, and I remember that because my mother (the original hands-on teacher) baked unleavened bread at home so the children could taste the same kind of food God's People wandering the desert might have eaten. And I remember the unleavened bread because it. was. gross. (and possibly gluten-free; god bless you gluten-free people, I really don't know how you do it).

In MY defense, I would like to say: I do remember my mom being at home at least once or twice and my dad dropping my brother and me off, curbside, and then peeling away into a Sunday sunrise for 45 minutes to an hour. It's times like these I wish my dad were here still, so we could take this matter to family court. Because I do remember this happening. But okay okay, mom, I do admit: I probably used a bit of too much artistic license when I made grossly overstated claims that it happened every single Sunday. I mean, obviously, my mom was dropping us off and peeling off into her Sunday school classroom.

My teacher DID have dark, bouffant hair, and the room was dark wood-paneled. And the teacher was the opposite of happy with me when she uncovered my Sunday school truancy. And the whole bathroom bit with the old lady was an actual, true thing that really, really happened. (Freakin' old ladies in bathrooms, honestly.)

I also feel like I need to say, in my mom's defense and because I know she's probably worried about it, I do not shirk organized religion today because of Presbyterian Sunday school or anything my mom did. I shirk organized religion today simply because it doesn't work for me, who I am right now or where I'm at. If I can find an organized religion that teaches love, goodwill to all humanity, and doesn't think it has aaaaallll the answers and is the foremost final and only correct version of the Divine Infinity; if I can find an organized religion that doesn't have sects of followers that are nuttier than a jar of peanut butter; and if I can find an organized religion that doesn't try to guilt trip its followers into constantly giving them a huge chunk of whatever little money they earn at whatever jobs they do, then I will concede. I will join the this organized religion, and I will be happy and shut up about it.

THAT'S why I don't do organized religion--I have a healthy sense of Something Bigger than me out there (which I call God for convenience's sake...Mom! Success!), but I think the peaceful religions are still pretty judge-y and the not-so peaceful ones, well. I mean helloooo: ISIS. That's what happens when you don't have all your shit together and under control, Organized Religion.

But getting back to my original point: herein lies the peril of memoir. Memories are faulty, and sometimes the actual event may need a little storytelling magic to make it more fun for a reader. But then feelings can get hurt, and I think I hurt my mom's, and I didn't intend for that to happen. I'm sorry, and I love you, Mom.

Wait--can I tell everyone how fabulous my mom is? Let me tell you a story about how deep my mother's love runs:

So I had this dog growing up. Her name was Sassy. Sassy was my childhood companion, my doggy best friend, and I grieve her passing to this day. I was also wholly responsible for her existence on the planet, because we owned her mother, a temperamental Lhasa Apso named Muffin who peed on EVERYthing. Muffin went into heat (I guess because, maybe, back in the 70's spaying or neutering your animals wasn't a thing? My parents made sure her daughter, Sassy, who we kept, got spayed and spayed GOOD) and a stray French poodle we called Pierre knocked her up. I was told NOT to let Muffin out of the house when Pierre was sniffing around, but it was not explained why to me. Thus, being a curious 8 year old, I did it anyway...this is how I continue to get into all of my scrapes and misfortunes at 43, by the way: explain it to me, or I'm doing it anyway.

At any rate, X weeks later, voila! Puppies. Sassy was the runt of the litter and the feistiest, so we gave Muffin away to some gay hairdressers (who left her alone and she promptly peed all over their designer couch) and kept Sassy.

One day, years and years later, Sassy got old. Her eyes had cataracts. She was tired all the time. Her memory was shot--she'd go outside, forget to pee/poop, and come inside and do it. She was a mess, and felt icky, and it was clearly time for someone to make a hard decision. (Years later, I'd have my own animal, a cat named Tasha, who would be in the same predicament, and I would be unable to make this hard decision...and so God would make it for me, and when God makes decisions like this for you, let me just say: God can be a bit of dick about it. And that's only because I was such a dick not to make the hard decision and do the right thing for Tasha...sort of the Universe's hands-on teaching method: "Don't do this again, okay? This hurts. She's hurting, and so now you are, too." That kind of thing.)

I couldn't bear to let Sassy go, I didn't want to say good-bye. Good-byes are very very hard for me; they always have been, they always will be.

We were traveling to see family that Christmas so my mom told me we were putting Sassy in a boarding kennel as always and to come say good-bye to her. I'd never been asked to say good-bye any of the other times we'd put her in a kennel while we went on vacation, so I was suspicious. I said good-bye and that was that.

Here's where my mother's sacrifice and love comes out: coming home, my mom knew what would happen. The Truth would be revealed. However, while at our relatives' house, she got sick with the flu. I mean SICK. Vomiting, diarrhea, temperature...all of it. My mom, who has an incredibly low pain threshold, came home anyway, even though she was begged to stay and fly back when she felt better. It was bad weather, and our flight got delayed by hours. My mom laid in an airport, sick beyond belief, and then flew home in misery because she didn't want me to find out about what had actually happened to my beloved friend, my childhood companion, without her being able to comfort me and explain it.

So that's my mom. Sunday school sleeper inner (in my head), unleavened breads/hands-on teacher, secret keeper (not really--she's as bad at that as I am), self-sacrificer. Who thinks I should go to church on Sundays. And will write guilt-trip inducing corrections on your birthday card if you cross her. But I also got my incredibly ironic and macabre sense of humor from her, and so thanks mom!

Be careful when penning memoir, Internet. There are WAY too many fact checkers out there. And they will put it on a home-made Hallmark card, they will put it right there, don't you make them!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.