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Insults, Injuries, And Secrets




So today, I want to tell you about other insults, injuries, and bitter-inspiring moments from my past.


My mother never went swimming with us. My dad took us swimming many times, but my mother not only refused to go in the pool, but never even came to the pool with us. Or to the lake when Daddy took me fishing. She refused to go no matter how I begged her or told her how fun it was. She refused to get into a swimsuit because she thought she was too fat. (It's true she wasn't rail-thin, but she wasn't fat, and I have photos to prove it.)


Not only that, but she refused to tell me (or anyone, I suppose) how much she weighed. Ever.


I do know, though, that we wore about the same size of clothes when I was in high school because I could wear things from her closet - although her wardrobe was mostly a decade out of style. And we were about the same height: 5' 8". I wore a 14/16, which is perfectly normal and my weight was within healthy guidelines for that height.


Also, she would never tell me who she voted for. It was her right - she said - to vote in secret and to keep it secret. I don't remember my father ever telling me who he voted for either. Elections and politics were not teachable moments at my house.


Of course, I've taken my kids swimming practically every summer of our lives, no matter my weight. Last summer I was at my all time high of 308 lbs, and there I was at the family reunion in the pool. (BTW - I've lost 30 lbs and counting since then. No early death for me.)


And while I don't take out billboard ads proclaiming my weight, except on my driver's license, I'm always honest when asked. (Since my weight bounces around so much, I just pick a number to fill in the blank for the state. Fortunately we don't have 'weight police' yet.)


It was tough to find out anything about the past, why this or why that, about my parents' lives, their past, their childhoods, what had happened in family history. My mother told me everyone in our family tree was either a drunk or in jail. She told me her grandfather had called her stupid when she couldn't beat him at checkers when she was little. When she was 11, a doctor put her on diet pills because she was fat. Her brothers used to sit on her and tickle her mercilessly until she, by force of will, made her non-ticklish. My father blamed her when the transmission fell out of the car while she was driving it.


And, as I learned much later, years after my father died, he'd been a womanizer and cheated on her numerous times. He probably had at least one child by another woman. His own brother didn't much like him and didn't understand why my mother had stayed with him for so long (they were married over 40 years).


So my mother was wounded. Yes. Understandable. Ok.


That doesn't mean I have to subject myself to her propensity to wound me, which she has done repeatedly, on nearly every interaction in the last 30 years (not even counting all the childhood baggage). Her edges are too sharp. She cannot change.


I wish things had been different for her, for my family, for me. I wish I had a mother I could count on for support, tenderness, advice, love, and all that mushy stuff. But I don't, never have, and never will.


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It's strange how my folks, Mom and Dad, demonstrated what would and would not make for an undivided life, now that I look back.


On my better days, when I'm not cursing the darkness, I sometime pause and thank them. Strange!


"Better people for it?" I sometimes ask.


Here's to our being the parents to ourselves and to our children we wish we had had!


"Ain't" life strange?



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