Category Archives: opinion

My Aunt Louise

Aunt Louise is the oldest of four sisters.  In her day, she was very beautiful with a beaming smile.  She was also quite awkward in many ways.  As an example, when she graduated high school, her fiance still had a year to go, so she kept going to school and audited classes so she’d have something to do while she waited for him to graduate.  She didn’t feel free and excited and have all these girlfriends to do things with.  She waited for her fiance to graduate high school.

The following year, they did indeed get married.

In the wedding photo she looks quite happy.  He looks kind of bashful.  The article in the paper is typical for 1949 with descriptions of what everyone wore and the several bridal showers she was given, including one given by the office girls of the place she worked.

Her life afterwards turned out to be very, very difficult and sad:  dysfunctional marriage, death of a three-year-old daughter, poverty, divorce, more poverty, then a good husband who died years ago, abusive relationship in her later years, and finally death of another daughter from brain cancer.

I would read the wedding article sometimes and wonder where it all went wrong….

Aunt Louise is due to turn 90 this coming January and my mother recently remarked that she has been quite talkative the last few times they were together.  Louise has said surprising things such as:  the reason she never worked after getting married was because not one person had liked her at the job she had.  She knew it the very first day she walked in the door.  They hated her at first sight.

How strange.  I wouldn’t have guessed that she was hated at her job.  According to her wedding announcement she had worked there for two years and “the office girls” had even given her a wedding shower.

I had always thought she had two lives.  The one before marriage and the one afterwards.  Instead, those “two lives” were part of a familiar pattern.

Her life turned out like all the other women’s lives in this family.  A beginning seemingly full of promise and light, beauty and hope.  Smart, sensitive, active girls who end up as victims on some level wondering where it all went wrong.

I suspect the clues to the future were right there all along.  We just missed them in the quest to do the right thing, please the people around us, be good girls, and basically give away our power until there was no more to give.

There are more women’s stories in my family and I hope I can do them justice.

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Filed under anxiety, decisions, depression, dysfunction, emotional health, enemies, family, first impressions, getting along, grief, history, human nature, journey, love, opinion, social phobia, Uncategorized, wellness, work

Stodgy Stuck Up and Not Fun at All

I had a nice Christmas Eve at my cousin’s house. I even drank a little wine which I seem to have developed some kind of liking for. It used to be that alcohol pretty much tasted terrible to me but if I wanted to get drunk, I would just tough it out and either ignore the taste or bury it with orange juice or Coke. Even with this new found liking for alcohol, though, I still don’t drink much. Or enough. Wink, wink. If I were a drinker, I might still have a job.

My cousin’s neighbor joined us later on that Eve. I’ve met this neighbor many times before. We never hit it off or anything but I can live with that and we have conversed in the past so it wasn’t a problem her coming over.

We ladies had been chatting for awhile when she turned to me and said she wanted to tell me something and she hoped I didn’t mind and she didn’t know if she should or not and if she said too much, please, just tell her it was too much and that she had stepped over the line and to stop.

Here we go. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. People often feel compelled to tell me exactly what thought just popped into their little heads. People have said some pretty unusual things to me over the years.

This time I smiled because I kind of suspected what was coming. Then she said that when she first met me, she thought I was very stodgy and not much fun. This made me laugh out loud. This is not news! I am aware that I make a certain kind of first impression. People who can only see surfaces are frequently left with a very basic and somewhat unfair impression of me. It became even funnier when my cousin piped up with, “People say that about ME, too!!!” A fellow traveler! Thank you, cuz!

I don’t know if the neighbor lady was relieved at my “fun” reaction to what she said or if she really didn’t think about the conversation that much at all. The only reason I care to think about this, and write about it, is because it reminded me of previous similar conversations people have had with me and my realization that I would NOT say such a thing to someone. I would not say, basically, “I used to not like you but now I do. Before, you fell well short of my requirements but now I think you’re A-okay.” Why, thank you! What a sweet thing to say. Wink, wink.

Well, it hurts my feelings when people tell me these things and I know not to do that to someone else. At least not on purpose.

As a kid, I was considered stuck-up by several of the school cliques. The popular kids couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t popular; they thought I should be, but I was not. Yes, somebody told me this. The not popular kids didn’t like me because they thought I was popular. Yes, someone told me that, as well.

On my long walks home from school by myself, passersby would say, Smile, it’s not that bad! Even though I wasn’t feeling bad and was just thinking about things on those long solitary walks. I guess I should have been tap dancing on the shoulder of the road and talking to myself.

Many years into the terrible job, one of my former co-workers said, “Man, that first day, when you first got hired, I told Lisa, ‘man, she isn’t going to be any fun at all!'” She told me this because I had finally passed the Fun Test. I was so relieved that I had passed the Fun Test. I do fit in! I thought I never would. Life is good.

Except that I didn’t fit in and life wasn’t good at all. The terrible job was really just a Red Flag Parade. Grab one of these here flags and swing it in the air with us! It took a long time for me to see it that way.

Last week I visited my mother. It was a pretty good visit. I stayed pretty laid back while I listened to Show ‘n’ Tell. At one point, she asked me if I wanted something to eat. She was hungry and didn’t want to eat in front of me. I told her to go ahead, I didn’t mind, I wasn’t hungry. But she kept asking me if I wanted something to eat. She tried tempting me with ever more delicious treats. But I truly wasn’t hungry and kept turning her down. “Oh, you’re no FUN!” Thanks, Mom.

Apparently, “fun” doesn’t mean what I think it means. Neither does “stodgy” or “stuck up.”

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Filed under family, first impressions, honesty, opinion