Sunday, March 6, 2011
when i was eleven years old i remember standing in the kitchen with my mother doing the dishes. i remember she asked me "who won the war between the north and the south?" well, thinking since i lived in the south i said "the south." i suppose i was in the 6th grade at the time. looking back i really cannot recall much about elementary school other than the things that embarrassed me. so, there i was standing next to my mother instantly knowing i had said the wrong thing. she stood there looking down at me with that look. you know the kind of look that says things you don't understand and you don't know why? it was the look that was on my mother's face every time she looked at me. so i stood there looking up at her. she looked at me and said "NO, STUPID!" i felt so ashamed. i just stood there. i can remember as we finished the dishes her irritated, jerky, snatching movements. yet again it was just one more instance of the disappointment she felt in me. it hurt. the words she said hurt so bad. she never did tell me the "correct" answer; eventually figuring it out on my own. years later i got the chance to go to college. i was in my late 30s. i was going thru a very bitter divorce and custody battle, working full time, and taking a full load every semester. one day i received a very important letter. it was from the college announcing my ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE. there was to be a banquet honoring those who had accomplished that cherished goal. i got in my car and drove to atlanta to my mother's house. when i arrived there was just a bit of small talk before i pulled that letter from my purse. with so much pride and a pounding heart i handed the envelope to her. as i stood there watching her look at the envelope and opening the letter i wanted to just SCREEEAM "NOW ASK ME WHO WON THE WAR BETWEEN THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH!" as she read the letter i calmly said "not too bad for someone who didn't know who won the war between the north and south is it?" she looked over the top of her glasses while still holding the letter and said "you've got to be shitin' me." i just stood there and smiled. drawing out the moment of my glory. the relief of feeling important and knowledgeable. and i said "no mama, i'm not. i never forgot what you called me. a child never forgets."