Feisty G.

Feisty G….the letters on the vanity plate of her car fit her perfectly.  Ginny…short for Virginia.  Trust me, when she used the long version of her name, it was a signal to back-off and say nothing.  Not that she would allow you to get a word in edgewise.

She never hesitated to let someone know what she thought of them, good, bad or indifferent.  Hell, she let me have it through the 40-plus years that we were family and I cannot say that her remarks at any given time weren’t well-deserved, not that I ever passed-up an opportunity to let her have it in return.

A little family background here:  my husband’s mother and sister married two brothers; the unions produced three boys who were more like brothers than cousins.  Somehow, my late mother-in-law envisioned that same closeness between Ginny, my sister-in-law and myself when we came into the family, always hoping that we would become like three sisters. Sadly, that was never to be even though we did manage to share some happy moments together through the years.

Personality conflicts, misunderstandings and just plain stupidity drove a wedge into what should have been a close family relationship.   Ginny tried to always be Switzerland in between two warring sides and I know how much it pained her to not see everyone get along.  Often she would step out of the neutral zone and speak her mind, not that it did much to chip-away at the walls which so many years of familial indifference created. 

She could be a capatosta, to an extreme, when she wanted her own way.  I recall a stand-off where Ginny went to her husband’s job and sat down, refusing to move until he agreed to let her have a new washing machine.  No exaggeration here folks.  Just ask my husband.  Really.

No one had a bigger heart and was loved more than she was by everyone especially her children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Ginny was the Pied Piper of relatives when it came to kids.  If a parent said no, Ginny quickly overruled that action with lavish permissiveness, creating an unbreakable bond between herself and that child of the moment.  She was a cousin by marriage yet a most precious Aunt to my children and later to my grandchildren.

Yes, the words which I’m laboring to put down are in the past tense.  At 6:30 this very night, our collective hearts started breaking with the ringing of phones.  Right now, I’m struggling to recall special memories and I feel someone looking over my shoulder,  whispering,  you’re such a bitch!

I know she’s there and I’m angry at her for leaving all of us, for not walking, no running, away from what ended up destroying her.  I want to scream out…Damn you, Ginny!  Damn you for allowing cigarettes to become more important than those of us who loved you so, who wanted you to live for many years to come.  You left this huge void, this empty space in our lives that will never be filled.  You are one more person in my life who left without saying good-bye.  Damn you. 

And, I hear her yelling back at me, in her raspy voice, scolding me for breaking a promise I made a few months ago when I last saw her.. You will be the one to take care of me, I know that; you will be there when I need you, she said and… I quickly agreed.  Somehow, foolishly, I thought she would be here forever, refusing to think she was so very ill.  I failed her.

Now, I sit here and wish for that step back in time, a chance to be crushed by one more of her best hugs, a chance to say…I love you, we all love you and…I’m sorry!   I sense that she knows all this for I can see her smile through my tears as if she’s saying…it’s okay.  At least that’s what I’d like to think as I watch her join all those who have been waiting.   

I say good-bye but not before yelling out…Hey Gin,  Shirley Temple just came through the Pearly Gates.  Order Chinese, invite her to sit down, and get her autograph.   Be nice!

She turns and gives me that million dollar grin.  One last time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope…like a Butterfly

Hope departed when she died.  I often talk about it being the second time she left me…without saying good-bye.

Throughout her illness, I held out the hope that she might remember.  She rarely did.  Like a butterfly struggling to break free from its cocoon, her memories darted in and out of the sunlight, fought against the darkness of every night, and me.

Still, there was always that chance she might turn her head and recognize that I was part of her life.  Or had been, once.

It was overwhelming, at times a helpless feeling, as I stood  in the shadows of that familiar stranger wanting to become the missing piece of her puzzle of forgetfulness.  A puzzle left scattered, never to be completed.

Hope, for me, departed on June 29th, 2006, on the wings of a butterfly who never looked back, taking with it many desires and needs and dreams.  While hope can carry on its back an entire soul, lifting up sorrow and bringing back joy, it also takes many forms, depending on your perspective; wildly positive or very reserved, almost cautious. Most of us hope for better days, health, happiness or just some release of a heavy burden.  For me, it was the hope that my late mother would remember something beyond the walls of what Alzheimer’s allowed.  I kept hoping she would remember…me.  

 

When she passed away, that hope went along with her.   

 

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Flower Girl

She was an only child, afraid of the world.  Secrets stayed hidden behind her smile.

     As an adult, she fears little.  Except the passing of time.  And forgetting.

 

She was once awkward and clumsy.  Always watching normal life from the sidelines.

    Her steps are now quick and with direction.  At times,  it’s as if she’s still running away. 

 

She was afraid to speak back then because no one listened.

    Now, she talks with her fingers, sharing words with anyone who reads the thoughts she shares. 

 

She didn’t realize her strengths for years.  Children weren’t allowed to be powerful years ago.

     Today, she launches an offensive at any injustice, having learned to stand up for herself…and others.

 

She was once a Flower Girl with a forced smile that peeked over a tiny bouquet.

      When she holds flowers now, each bloom looks up at her as if to smile and remind her of how far she has come since…then.

 

 

Flicker of Inspiration Linkup #46: The Way We Were

The theme this week is “The Way We Were” – write up a piece about your former self (that is, the person you were during formative times when the person you really are was beginning to show itself)

Rummaging through some photographs that my late mother managed not to destroy, or discard, I came across one taken when I was about five years old.   Friends of my parents married and I was a small part of the event, serving as a Flower Girl in their wedding.  Looking at that photo, I too easily recalled exactly what my life was like back then.  Once again, a writing prompt surfaced that was perfect timing with my thoughts.

I still have the little pink satin gown, in perfect condition, hanging in a closet.  Memories linger in the delicate fabric.

 


 


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