On this day, 10 years ago, I received a package from my brother Beau. After momma's passing he found a pile of spiral notebooks in her vanity. There were 6; one was written to each of us. On the first page of each notebook, my mother had written. "When I was a child I failed to keep the letters to and from my mother. After she had passed away, I wished I had them to remind me of her and how she loved me. As dying is inevitable, I am going to make sure that no child of mine longs for our letters, or my love. MOM" Across the cover of the notebook my brother sent was written, LETTERS TO EMMA MAE. One page contained my letter to my mother and the one next to it was a copy of her responce to the letter.
If you don't mind, I am going to pass one of her letters on to you.
But I have to give you the background story. I had divorced my husband. My divorce was a family scandal. My maternal-grandmother, a devout Catholic and autocratic woman blamed me for the 4 aunts that soon followed my example and divorced their husbands. She had been ignoring me and giving me the silent treatment and now at the dinner table, she said, "Beau, would you ask your sister Emma Mae to pass me the peppermill?" My grandmother was sitting right next to me.
You don't eat as much Camay as I was forced to consume for having the ability to control what you say. And I knew before I said it that I was probably going to be blowing bubbles at 35 if my momma caught me. I excused myself from the dinner table and handed my grandmother the PEPPERMILL and as I turned to walk away, I thought, "Pretentious old COW! How dare she be this mean to me!"
Heaven didn't help, divine intervention did not occur, because I said IT. To make sure the old cow heard me I announced loudly, my voice booming over the dinner conversation, "Grand, I am not the reason Aunt Sharon divorced Uncle Robert. She was tired of him stealing her underwear and stretching out her drawers from WEARING them."
Let me just say if words have power, I had dropped an atomic bomb at the dinner table. Years later, my brother described it as a brawl to rival professional wrestling. Decades later, Beau says it is the ONLY family dinner he can recall with any clarity.
My mother wanted me to apologize to my grandmother. She had written to me a letter that would have sent most people packing their bags for the guilt trip she was sending them on, but I, well, I didn't feel like going.
So I had written her back, "Mother, I looked outside this morning, as pigs have not sprouted wings and started flying, I didn't apologize." Emma Mae
This is her letter to me.
"My dearest daughter, I understand that you do not feel as if you said anything wrong. What I have been trying to explain to you is that you could have said it better. Emma Mae, you are responsible for your choice of words and their effect. You chose ones that would shock and hurt, instead ones that would help her understand your feelings. You did this because you were hurt and angry. Harsh and hurtful words do nothing but show that you can be a harsh and mean spirited person.
Yes, your grandmother's behavior was rude and I do not condone it. But I am not her mother. I am yours. You are not a harsh or cruel person. You cannot wait for pigs to sprout wings, your grandmother does not have that long. I understand that you feel you did the RIGHT thing, but sometimes how we treat people shouldn't be about the right thing, sometimes, it should about the "nice" thing. In this case the NICE thing to do, is to tell your grandmother you love her and that you are sorry that you hurt her.
See you Sunday. Grand is making your favorite, Paella.
I went to my grandmother's the day I got that letter. I just walked up with open arms and said, "Grand" she had me in her arms before I could say I love you. We talked. I explained how my marriage with my ex was and how I felt like a ghost in my own life. She cried and told me how she never could fathom not being in love with your husband for your entire life and just didn't understand divorce. But did understand it was the right choice for me.
That Sunday, after many hugs, tears, and a great meal, Grand handed Aunt Sharon a package from Marilee's Lingerie Shoppe, and said, "No child of mine is going to have to share her undies." That was when the laughter started.
I was speaking to the father of my children and I used a phrase, "No child of mine" that my mother and grandmother said on many occassions. Do you find yourself using "Phrases" or hear your mother's voice when you speak to your children?