I can feel that my hormones are weirding out on me. It’s been over a year, now, since my surgery. I wonder if, at some point, this crap will stop. I’ve been through it enough that I recognize the tiny nuances when they’ve barely started. Today it’s a headache and my body temperature — one minute I’m hot, with beads of sweat between my breasts. The next minute I’m shivery cold, checking the thermostat on the wall because I’m certain a cold breeze has somehow made it through the walls. I hope tonight isn’t going to be filled with hot flashes. It’s so draining on me when my body does this to me. I took a hot bath tonight for awhile after I got home from work, sometimes that helps.
Last night, I was working with my Great Aunt Edith’s photographs again, also known as the “scanning project”. I ran across some school looking type pictures. By the names written on them, I knew they weren’t family, so I figured they must have been friends of hers. Their ages were written on the pictures, the dad was 32, the mom was 28 and the two boys were 7 and 6. The pictures were taken in 1973. I wondered about their story, how they knew Edith. I ran an Internet search and I found someone who I thought might be the person in the picture. I e-mailed her around midnight last night and she replied today, as follows:
“My husband and I bought the 15 acre ranch in 1970 from your great aunt and her first husband. We carried on the fuchsia nursery which she had had there. We remained friends and, after her first husband died, we met her second husband and visited them at their home in the foothills several times. Our boys are 38 and 39 now, so time flies.”
Edith at her fuschia farm …
There was more to the e-mail, but I closed my browser window. As I sat in the tub after reading that email, I just let my mind wander as it may. One thought that popped in my head was “I’m proud of where I came from.” I grabbed hold of that thought and examined it. I’ve learned that sometimes the biggest keys I can turn in my brain come from the internal dialogue that I have with myself. As I examined that thought, I realized that tonight is the first time I’ve ever really felt that way. It’s been a two year journey to get to this point.
When I took the trip back to my childhood state last July, I realized that my parents moved to the country because they wanted us to have acreage to play on and tons of animals to love. I had always thought the reason we moved there was because we were poor. I realized, after seeing the house that we moved from, that we weren’t poor until my dad chose to spend his paycheck on alcohol instead of his family. I also realized that his decision to do that is in no way my fault (classic ACOA). My mom did what she had to do to protect herself and her kids. That doesn’t make my dad someone I need to be ashamed of. That doesn’t make my mom a hero. It makes them human beings who made decisions and who did what they had to do to survive. These are things I’ve known all my life, but last year I understood them. Seeing where I came from made it real.
My dad is gone now, has been since 2000. I’ve chosen to reconnect with his side of the family. I’ve made two trips to visit my aunt (his sister) in the last two years. When I visited her last September, I came home with Edith’s pictures. The pictures she took throughout her life that meant so much to her. She meant so much to me, she passed away when I was 23. So I treasure having the opportunity to get to know her better through the things and people she loved enough to keep their pictures.
I think it’s interesting that I’m learning to love myself through getting to know where I came from. My dad was a hard worker, he tried, but alcohol was stronger than him. My mom is a determined, compassionate, joyful, loving person. Every single person in my family, my grandmothers, my grandpa, every person in my direct lineage — they’ve been determined, independent, hard working, smart people. They made their own way in this world, they never mooched off of anyone. When they were down, they still managed to move forward, one step at a time.
I will get through this hormone crap. I will move on with my life. And, someday, when I’ve been gone 11 years … maybe my grandniece will look through my pictures and get inspiration from them.
I hope so.