Do you ever wonder what your mother’s life was like before you were born? Her heartbreaks, her dreams, her triumphs and tragedies – the stories that made her who she is?
I did. And still do.
In many ways, my mother’s life was an enigma. I grew up in the era where things were not discussed. Skeletons stayed firmly locked in the closet, never to be revealed except in those rare slip-ups that would occur when the beer flowed a bit too freely.
So when she died and we discovered the obituary of her father tucked in an old book we were puzzled to see that her name wasn’t listed. Instead, a “Mrs. X” (I don’t remember the last name) stared out at us. What…the…hell. Was she married before she met my Dad? Who was this mysterious Mr. X?
Her last living brother solved the mystery: she was living in sin with a man (a brutal one at that). A shameful thing in that day and age so it had to be covered up with a lie. The pretend husband.
That’s all we were told so that’s the end of that story.
Our mothers choose the stories they want to tell us not the ones we want to know. Even their childhood stuff – we get the little glimpses but never the full story.
One story my mother often told was about the time she hit her baby brother. Enraged, my grandmother chased her around the kitchen table to lay down a beating of her own. But mom was too fast. So Grandma hit her where it really hurts: she took her favorite doll, a little Indian doll with a papoose strapped on the back, and smashed it to bits. Mom said was the worst thing my grandmother ever did because that doll was her everything – and Grandma knew it. It broke the bond and mom had trouble trusting her after that. (Toys are serious biz to a kid.)
Years later, while meandering around in an antique store, I found a doll exactly like the one she described. It was pristine, intact, like brand new. I packed the doll up and mailed it off as an early birthday gift. A few days later, the phone rang and I could barely understand her. She was sobbing with joy, made whole by that little Indian doll.
A few months later, mom was gone. Her other stories are gone too but the Indian doll sits on my shelf, a reminder of her legacy, her story, of who she was.
What stories have I left unsaid for my children? What are the things I choose to tell…or not? Which will they remember?
Perhaps the one on how I broke my leg at two, which was the biggest life changer ever (it’s a long story).
Or maybe they’ll remember the more mundane stupid crap like the “sanitary napkin cast“ or the time I was so desperate to swear out loud that I tried to trick my sister into naming a character in her story “Harry Dick” just so I could have an excuse to say those words out loud (I got in big trouble for that one).
Or maybe they’ll choose to reflect on the carefully curated dark tales that I’ve shared here and there…and wonder how that shaped me into who I am today. Perhaps they will think about the stuff I didn’t share…won’t share. The stories that are still too raw, too personal….too scary.
The stories that I am keeping for me..for now. Maybe forever.
We all have our stuff, both good and ill, but I sometimes wonder what is the balance between oversharing and not saying enough.
How much do we really need to tell? What should our loved ones know?
I hope to tell my children more stories before I’m gone. Funny ones. Happy ones. Maybe a few of the ones that still make my stomach burn and my jaw tighten.
Because those stories are my legacy – and their legacy too.
Those stories need to be told. One day.
What stories are you telling your loved ones?
Originally Published at The Tarot Lady Dot Com. Reprinted with Permission by the Author.
About the Author: Theresa Reed
Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady) is an intuitive Tarot reader, teacher, mentor and yogi on a mission to take Tarot from hippie to hip. When she’s not reading tarot, she’s busy helping fellow mystics learn how to create sustainable + profitable businesses. Her first book, The Tarot Coloring Book, is due to drop November 2016. If you are ready for straight talkin’ tarot and a side of biz whizz, get to her online hood: The Tarot Lady or follow her on Twitter @thetarotlady