My Blue Gardenia

Things are percolating…
March 16, 2011, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s been hard to write…a struggle between wanting to dig further, and wanting to just let my grandmother rest in peace. I think of my mother,  and I know that she wants to just move forward and stop looking back, but as soon as I begin to think that she’s right, I read something else in the diaries and I know that Deenie’s story needs to be told. And I think that, maybe, we all owe it to her somehow, to let her live on in this way, and to learn, from the story, what she wasn’t able to teach us in life.

Yesterday, I met Aunt Sadie for coffee. We used to spend so much time together when I was little…but now I am busy with my family, and she with her adventures. I really needed someone to talk with about Deenie’s diaries. Sadie’s read them all, trying to find the mother who was only ever a ghost to her. She was a little girl when Deenie died, but of all three of Deenie’s daughters, she is the most like her. It was born in her, and travels in her blood. We know this because no one spoke much of her mother for years after she died. But having grown up the center of a loving family, she isn’t lost the way Deenie was lost. She seems to have all the good of her, and none of the bad. She’s brave, spirited, and not afraid of her wildness. She knows her own mind. She grew up with a ghost for a Mama, a father who adored her, but was often too sad to be what she needed, and two older sisters, who protected her at all costs.

My mother, Sarah, the oldest, held Sadie like a china doll. She was convinced that if she didn’t drop her, someone would bump into her, or something might even fall out of the sky and knock her from her arms. She organized their lives into an order that she could control, because her life was so out of control for so long, or maybe because no one else, not even her parents, ever really stepped into this role. This particular aspect of Sarah’s care always made Sadie crazy. (And boy, can I relate!) When someone arranges your life for you, and forbids you to step outside of the neat and tidy box that they created for you, the implicit message is that you can’t do anything on your own, and sometimes, you even begin to believe that is the truth, until you realize the difference between fear and truth.

Auntie Anna, the middle sister, always understood Sadie, but tried to protect her as well. She was stuck somewhere in between the two sisters, in between Deenie as her mama and a ghost. Anna told me that she thought that my mother was once a lot like Deenie as well, but it terrified her, so that whenever she felt it rise inside her, she pushed it down with the weight of her will and went on as if it didn’t exist. Now that my mother is older, either her will has weakened, or she is less afraid, because I see Deenie in her more often.

I don’t think that her will has weakened.

No one really knew what Sadie could and would do once she got out of the neat and tidy box. Even before Deenie died, she was a wild little girl. But there is a particular trauma that comes with losing your mother so early, and the fear and coddling of her older sisters stunted her wild nature, but only temporarily. Today she travels with what the day brings, its a coping method really, and probably why she escaped this whole thing more intact than any of the others.


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