The music brings it back...
I feel no shame, I'm proud of where I came, for I was born and raised in the boon docks.
As the words sang out proudly from the stereo, I held Judah and swayed. So much has changed inside of me since I was younger, so much of my heart has been shaped and refined. But... some things have not changed at all. Somewhere inside, I am still my Mother's daughter, my step-dad's little girl.
There was a lot of pain in my childhood, but I do not regret any of it. It has made me grateful for every breath I take. It has given me this deep compassion for the hurting. And it has taught me how to forgive those who have hurt people in ways that some could not imagine living through.
I remember so much good. My step-dad loved me, and I will be forever grateful to him for raising me to have a strong heart, a firm stance on issues I care about, and a tenderness and love for those closest to me. He wasn't perfect, he is broken, and I love him.
The music, it brings the memories so strongly. I feel the feelings, I see the visions, I smell the smells. I have to close my eyes and steel my heart against the wave of emotion. It is overwhelming at times.
I'm sitting in the car, 8 years old, the Dixie Chicks rocking out a happy tune, telling some poor guy that he once again chose the wrong woman, his loss. Nachos sit on the middle console. I am happy, light hearted. To my left, driving home down this old familiar road with me, is Mommy. She's laughing, giggling actually, and looking at me as if she can contain her love no longer. The song changes to a male voice, singing, "I can still feel you..." and as he repeats himself, over and over, she giggles and asks, "Do you think he can still feel her?" I giggle. "I'm not sure..."
The late afternoon sun is shining, and I see the big tree on the left hand side of the road, huge leaves swaying in the small breeze. She loves that tree. Says the leaves are as big as elephant ears. We drive on by the tree, one of many things she points out that she loves. She's not afraid to declare love to anything and everything...a trait that has brought her much sadness in the past.
Sometimes I close my eyes and sit in the memories for a long time. I miss them...I miss her. I miss myself when I was young and naive to all that was going on. It feels like a different life lived...
Budweiser cans and Camel cigarettes are a normal sight in this house. They are accepted just as readily as WWF wrestling on the television or a home cooked meal in the oven. Mommy, bless her soul, tried to make sure we had good food to eat. And I can see him, sitting cross-legged on the floor, can of beer beside him, his brief-case opened, pen drawing out another complicated puzzle as he listens to football. The notebook written to the brim with all the football stats rests open on the coffee table.
I admire him. He's so strong, so big, so sure of himself. He could move mountains if he wanted to. He could do anything. He's my Daddy.
We were blessed as children, we really were. But I also remember the hard times that have made me who I am today....
It's Thanksgiving. I don't really know what that means, other than Mommy is really stressed out and Daddy is watching wrestling and is ignoring her. She says something about needing to leave so we can make it in time. He won't get ready and she's getting really angry. Wrestling is finally over and he gets up, and we all pile in his truck, racing across town.
As we pull into the VFW's parking lot, we only see two cars. Mommy starts cussing and Daddy is silent. He goes inside and comes out with two small containers. He hands them to me to hold and we drive home. The food is cold and soggy, and Mommy is crying.
I'm so grateful for the childhood I had. It helps me know that situations and circumstances do not stay the same forever, if you are willing to do something to change them. Every person in my life growing up impacted me for good. My grandfather's kind and loving spirit. His stories of when he was just a boy. His statements like, "My favorite sound in the world is rain hitting a tin roof. I love to sit and listen to it for hours." It's my favorite sound too. My grandmother's strength and durability. Her instilling in me an appreciation for manners and cleanliness. So much to be grateful for, so much time to be lost on dwelling on the bad.
It was picture day. I was so nervous. My sisters already had something to wear. Then Daddy walked in, carrying a package all wrapped up in bows. I smiled at him, then really smiled when I realized he was handing it to me. "Open it, honey." His eyes shown with love as I gasped at the beautiful dress neatly folded inside. There were shoes, shiny and new, laying beside it. I squealed and jumped up and down in happiness. It was most beautiful dress I had ever seen in my life. I was astonished he had given it to me. I cherished that dress for many years to come...
There are scars that will never fade, memories that will never dull. Hard times and scary times that make my heart thump fast. But I am so proud of where I came from, so proud of the way my parents labored away to give us better than nothing. And I can see it now...clearly as I could see my step-dad's love underneath the anger and alcohol. Everything happened for a reason. Not one tear was lost, not one cry unheard. My Father, my Daddy in Heaven, He was weaving a grand story together. A story of love and pain, loss and happiness, tears and giggles. And I would not change one single line.