Note from neighbor

If you recall, at the beginning of the year I decided to make it my year of letting go. In addition to my near Sisyphean task of disposing of unneeded belongings, I also planned on letting go of some unwanted emotions.

Today’s emotion is brought to you through a note my son brought home after helping a friend’s parents move. He parked his car on a street and spent several hours on a thankless and difficult task only to come back to a note on his car scolding him for parking on a public street.

While I understand that the space in front of a house is prime parking for the residents of that home, it is also not a crime to park there unless the neighborhood requires permits and you don’t have that permit (which is the case in our neighborhood — but if you have a permit for the neighborhood you can park anywhere, even if it is not in front of your own house). I also understand that most of the homes in neighborhoods around here have no garages.

This note is probably 3 years old, and I am mostly over it, but when I came across it in my recent purge attempts it made me angry again so therefore I needed to write about and then destroy the note.

Please refrain from parking in front of our house — We have 4 cars/drivers and need the curb area in front of our house — Thanks for understanding the neighborhood courtesy!

Note from Aunt Pat (and her dog)

This must have been in a Christmas card

Hey Dona,

Haven’t heard if you are coming home for Xmas. Even if you do I may not see you cause I won’t take my car out in 15° below weather. Joey couldn’t even walk into the house this morning after he pooped. His little footies are so tender they freeze. Hope your kitties have a nice Xmas and you and Dean too. Thanks for the birthday card.
Leila & Joey

Aunt Pat (Leila) was a trip. I wrote about her a few times over the years, the last was when I was remembering drinking root beer in her house.

Christmas note from Grandma Patrick

Sometimes when I think about my Grandma Patrick, I think of her as being a little uncaring — or at least feeling that I was not one of her favorite grandchildren. I then remember the time she gave me money to buy a tee-shirt that my mom would not pay for and then I find this note that probably contained more cash than I expected for my trip to England. I do think she used money for love sometimes, but maybe she thought she had to.

Just another object I am getting rid of after posting here.

Christmas note from Grandma Patrick — the flowers and pot are 3-dimensional The flowers are crocheted

Xmas 1978 To Dona Patrick, from Grandma Patrick

Have a very happy Christmas in England. We will all be missing you, but we will be thinking of you. Merry Xmas from us all. Grandma. Use this Gift where you most need it. Love Grandma.

She died about 5 years later. Okay, I am not throwing it away.

Too many Bibles

Not counting my personal ones, I have fourteen Bibles (actually most of them are just half the Bible) that belonged to one, now gone, family member or another. I have at least one for three of my grandparents, three that were my mom’s and four that were my fathers if you count the Bible that the funeral home gave us. I also have my mom’s brother’s New Testament that I will send to my cousin. My favorite is my Grandpa Green’s Mason Bible.

I read that Bibles can be thrown away with no ceremony, but I am uncomfortable doing so. I will probably put them in a box in the kneewall again, providing nourishment for the silverfish.

Or, they could be a Christmas decoration next year.

Memories of the Ocean

Writing Prompt: Write about a mysterious or fantastical place in our memory. Like a visit somewhere as a child that, once you were an adult, seems far away and perhaps remembered slightly askew from reality. Or a structure or natural location that enchanted your imagination even as an adult.

I was positive I’d been on a beach at the ocean. I just assumed that it was that time we drove from Elgin to Virginia Beach, up through Washington, DC (through being the definitive word because apparently my dad would not stop), and onto New York city where I was sure our driver was Jack Paar.

When I clarified it with my mom she said that we never stopped at a beach on that trip. When I pushed her she thought that perhaps I was confusing it with our trip to Two Rivers when I was very young. Since I didn’t remember Two Rivers and since I absolutely knew the difference between a river and an ocean, I was sure she was mistaken and that she just could not remember that time we went to the ocean I continued to believe we went to the ocean.

Many years later I found some old photographs that proved we’d been to the ocean. Grandma Green and Aunt Ginny were there and they did not go to Virginia Beach with us, so that was a little confusing. My confusion was cleared when I showed the photographs to my mother and she told me that was the beach in Two Rivers and the water was Lake Michigan.

Many more years later I saw it for myself, probably the very beach where young Dona, Grandma Green, Mom and Aunt Ginny sunbathed.

I know there are photographs, or maybe videos of my mom and me at the beach. Maybe not this trip — I was not even 2 years old, so how could I remember this?

My year of being religious

Growing up we rarely went to church, and when we did it was painful for me. I was extremely shy and the Sunday school kids seemed to be mean.

My parents tried to make up the lack of religious education by giving me Bibles over the years. First a tiny book full of Bible verses, at least one that I memorized. Then a huge illustrated Bible whose drawings alternately fascinated or horrified me. They also gave me a regular King James bible and a Living Word Bible.

I am not sure how old I was when I decided to pray for the soldiers in Vietnam, but when I told Mrs. Wewell, our next door neighbor, she said that I should pray for her instead. I did and the next day her beloved dog was killed by a car. When I tried again a few months later, her hand was caught in the ringer of her old ringer-washer, making that hand useless for the rest of her life. So I quit praying, certain that God misunderstood my requests.

I discovered C. S. Lewis’ Narnia in my teens. I considered them my favorite books for a very long time but knew no one else who’d read them, although eventually my British boyfriend, Jeremy, read them too and loved them as much as I did. I guess I knew they were based on the Bible at some level, but it didn’t bother me, nor did it make me religious.

Fast forward to 1996 or so. We’d bought a new computer and one of the first things I did was look up C. S. Lewis. I joined an email list called Mere Christianity where people talked about Lewis and all of his books. Among the other members was C. S. Lewis’ stepson, Doug Gresham, who invited me (and my family) to his Irish retreat when I mentioned I was trying to believe. Other members also tried to give me advice on how to find faith. A few sent me books they’d written.

Something clicked in my head and I felt that maybe, just maybe, it had all worked. That I was now among the faithful. I recall looking at my students in a different way, even feeling I could see their souls on one occasion. My one-time teaching assistant at work belonged to the LDS church and we’d have long conversations about faith.

Also about this time Dean was taking the kids to church because he felt they needed a religious upbringing. And also to be able to tell his mother that they were getting a Christian education. I didn’t accompany them very often, but sometimes I did. It turns out the congregation thought I was Catholic and that’s why I rarely went to their church.

This lasted about a year and the feeling of having faith, of believing faded and eventually went away.

I think that part of my search for religion and faith was assuming that when I died I would need a minister or some religious official to officiate at my funeral. I’ve since realized that is not the case and it’s definitely made me breathe easier that I don’t have a church. Or faith in a supreme being.

I’ve had some blips now and then and even started a blog about it just after my father died because at that time I guess I still hoped to eventually find my religion. But not now.