I was trying to decide where I did begin.
- I was born in Rockport so I began physically in a small town along the Gulf Coast of
Texas. Our parents gravitated to small towns to raise us. I was born in Rockport, grew up mostly in George West, and graduated high school in Bishop. Mother said that small towns have the same percentage of bad kids as big towns, but you know their names. I never got into trouble without my parents knowing about it before I got home. It was a sure thing if it happened in school since our dad was the high school principal.
In church, at school, in the grocery store, Mother reminded us that our behavior was a direct reflection on our family. So behave! Our dad said it differently: Don’t do anything you don’t want reported on the front page of the newspaper. I also learned early that entertainment is where you find it. We never missed a sports event, band concert, play production, or piano recital. It was our entertainment as well as our extra curricular activity. We didn’t buy books often. We went to the library. In small towns, the librarian knows which book you are likely to want to read and which ones your mother might object to your reading. We didn’t have house numbers; we didn’t need them. We lived in the green house between the Canfields’ and the Schley’s houses. You know. The one across the street from the Methodist Church.
I am grateful for beginning in a small town because I learned a sense of community, a feeling of belonging.
- That brings me to where I began emotionally. My family. I am the middle daughter in
a family of three girls, born to parents who were a little older than my friends’ grandparents. Our parents were as different as two people could be. Our dad was smart and funny and athletic; Mother was competitive and creative and articulate. I think Daddy liked the hand he was dealt. In a perfect world, though, our mother would have been the CEO of General Electric. I don’t know that being a parent was her first career choice.
Don’t get me wrong. She did everything very well. She was a stay at home mom who prodded her daughters to educational excellence. She made sure we took piano and art lessons, sewed our clothes, cooked us three meals a day, and walked us to Mass every day during Advent and Lent. I never got the feeling her heart was in what she was doing. Looking back at her, a sense of yearning, a tinge of disappointment lingered about her.
I am grateful for that just a bubble off normal family who gave me my emotional start. My sisters were my safety net. Mother had a hard time carrying my little sister so 2-year-old me became the responsibility of my then 6-year-old sister. I still consider my sisters two of my best friends. Our dad taught us loyalty. In today’s culture, he’d likely have gotten going when the going got tough, but I don’t think that thought would have entered his mind. And Mother? She taught us to keep walking through, don’t stop, don’t intend to do things. Do them. She had an aunt who ran away, just disappeared, when her life went off track. Her grandmother committed suicide when she got overwhelmed with life. Whether it was tenacity or stubbornness, I’m glad Mother didn’t go either of those routes.
I began spiritually as a cradle Catholic. Practice might make perfect; I’m not sure about that. But practice sure as heck makes permanent. I practiced the Catholic faith throughout my growing up years. The rosary and Mass were part of our life. We knelt around our parents’ bed every night to pray. I’m grateful for the grounding I got spiritually in the Catholic Church. I still go to Mass, but I doubt that I’ll ever be active in that religion. Probably any religion.
The God of my understanding as I grew up, and for most of my adult life, loved me IF and UNLESS. Years of believing that I could control the outcome of things kept me miserable with the outcome of things. I put conditions on the “Your will, not mine” prayer. Run it past me, God, and if I approve, we’ll give it a try.
I’d been sober a few years before I discovered a God who loves me EVEN if and ALWAYS. I am crazy in love with that God. Awareness of the miracles in my life keeps me amazed at this God who is far beyond my understanding. Heck. If I could understand God, God wouldn’t be big enough.