Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another snippet of my memoir...

Eyes wild, third drink down, Dad sets his tumbler on the coaster, fresh cigarette in the plaid beanbag ashtray, rises from the chair and comes at me.

“You’re the next Virgin Mary!” he rants. The rant sends him into a coughing fit that will end only after the stack of used napkins he's taken from fast food restaurants comes out of his pants pocket. The napkins move to the mouth, the deep, disgusting phlegm urged up from his chest, to the mouth, out into the napkins, napkins re-folded and replaced in the pants pocket until the next attack, only minutes away. He pulls Vicks Vapo-Rub from the other pants pocket, jams his index finger in the jar, slathering the menthol ointment over both nostrils. He sits back into his chair, reclaims the drink and ashy cigarette, signifying our little talk is over.

Nothing precipitates this rant, nothing comes after. Just the rant, and then more nothing.

I am twelve and have had twelve years of hearing how he hates “The damn Catholics.” I can't imagine where this Virgin Mary comment is coming from. Nothing he has ever said or done before, helps me to make sense of this out-of-nowhere threat.

"The Catholics don't believe in birth control. The world is over-populated, and it's all because of those damn Catholics."

"Those damn Catholics think the damn Pope is God. They'll do anything he tells them to do. They're like sheep headed off to slaughter."

That's it. The birth control and the Pope. His two biggies. I've heard about the birth control and Pope problems before, but never more than that. It's as though every twelve-year-old should just automatically know the significance of those two arguments against Catholicism. If not every twelve-year-old, certainly this one.

At fourteen I tell Dad I am going to go to Marist, a Catholic high school. I have held off telling him this until the last possible moment. I know I am handing him a loaded gun with this confession.

I don't know which one of us he is more likely to shoot.

His eyes, instantly mad. His hands shake even more than usual. His voice, rigid.

"That's it! Now you're going to go off and marry one of them. I'd rather you marry a BLACK than a Catholic!"

The Virgin Mary memory surfaces. Not sure if I'll be marrying anyone, if I'm going to be the next Virgin Mary. Besides, I am under-weight, under-developed and over-anxious. Getting married is about the last thing on my mind. I can't even imagine dating.

We have never discussed that night and his threatening words, but not a day has gone by that I haven't been haunted by them.


I am sitting in the small, back room of a bookstore, Healing Waters and Sacred Spaces. As well as books, there are crystals, CDs, incense and all kinds of other wonderful things to create sacred spaces. I have been here before, as a customer of the bookstore. I didn't realize they did more than sell what is in the store, but they do. They have all kinds of psychic readers that operate in the back room.

I am here to see one that has been highly recommended, I am nervous and excited. I don't even know what my question will be, perhaps I will just let her tell me whatever she wants to.

As I look around the small room at all the lovely things placed tenderly, I am certain I am safe. There are flowers, candles, incense, statues and a fountain. Lovely art hangs on the wall. Surrounded by beauty I am calmed.

The clairvoyant is lovely, normal looking, sweet, her words gentle and loving. She tells me lots of things, all fascinating. I take copious notes. After 45 minutes of rather surface level information, I tetatively ask if there's anything she can tell me about my son.

"My son," I say. No more. Not his age, not his multitude of diagnosis. Nothing.

She describes my son to me exactly as I would describe him to someone else.

She gets it.

She gets him.

Shivers run through me.

“Your son has the soul like that of the Dalai Lama. It is nearly pure. He has no ego. He is here to teach.”

At 43 now, I have been holding the words my dad spoke for 31 years. Never understanding them, always fearful, always confused. Always both worried he was right, and worried he was wrong. The conversation pops into my mind, fresh, not scary now. I hear my dad's words juxtaposed with what this woman is now saying.

Her words are a balm. She beautifully articulates what only my own soul has felt. but my voice has not dared to speak. For the ten years I have been this boy's mother I have known he is like no other. If nothing else he has freed me from my father's curse.

Maybe that is all.

Maybe that is enough.


Suzy said...

Maybe this is incredible writing from an incredible woman.......
No maybe's about it!

Go Mama said...

Whew. What a beautiful, heartfelt piece. And I can just see your dad with his plaid beanbag ashtray. Can't wait to read more...

Nancy said...

So beautiful Carrie. Awaiting your memoir's publication, but for now, thanks for letting us peek.

Michelle O'Neil said...

So beautiful Carrie! I am blown away!


kario said...

You are a wonder! And I swear that is not a rant and it is not accompanied by any phlegm!

Always moving forward, always seeking truth. Love you!

holly said...

Love it. Love it. Love it. And LOVE IT! The used napkin scene is just so beautifully grotesque.

Did I mention I love it?

Prema said...

Wow, another layer...this is deep, profound. Beautiful. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Somehow we are all products of our past. Yet what we choose do with our varied experiences, both real and preceived, is choice. You chose not to be a victim, not a surviver, but rather an incredible articulate soul. Keep writing. Keep sharing.

Terry Whitaker said...

I had chills throughout. This is truly incredible. I agree with anonymous--Not a victim, not a survivor--but a mother and a teacher.

jennifer said...

Love this!!!

Two more words...KEEP GOING...

Jerri said...

Breath-taking, my love. Simply wonderful.

You, your life, your experiences have purpose. NOTHING like the negatives your dad tried to convey. Thanks for taking us along on your journey. Thanks for sharing your Self and your stories.