HONESTY with tears creates LOVE

Writing about HONESTY has caused me the most struggle of the156 reader’s write essays submitted to the SUN, honestly, beginning January 2000; if you don’t believe me, count the months yourself or call the SUN. That first readers write topic was “Making a Difference.” None of them have been published (so far and therefore not made a difference to the ‘sun’) although 3 of my Correspondence pieces and one glorious photo of my daddy holding my sister with one hand graced the pages of the SUN. It is dad’s hand that continues to hold mine to these typing keys although he passed on over 30 years ago. I have been accused of being brutally honest…no that’s my mother, as I remember her saying, “If I had a rifle, I’d shoot Kevin.” My two daughters were present to hear their grandmother: my oldest Erin, was Kevin’s girlfriend and she was pregnant with his child without being married. This occurred in 1992 when Erin was a senior at Cornell University and my mother, a long time born again christian, was still practicing nursing as an RN. I am still appalled twenty years later to hear mom’s words…one of the many reasons I left the church of supposed-love-religion in 1984. Just yesterday I finished reading Crossing the Borders of Time, a true story of WWII, exile and love reclaimed, sobbing once more the loss of my daddy, not to WWII, but to a sudden heart attack in 1977 when I was only 31. But I wonder how honest I would have been during the war, hiding my family members from the Nazis…how brave would I be? It’d definitely be a case for me to be dishonest despite my wish to be ‘completely’ honest in my life. I wish to be ‘deeply honest’, is what I wrote to my daughter Erin more than a decade ago trying to convince her that I was the one to appreciate and love. I took care of her and her sister Megan, after their dad left when they were four and one years old, while they visited their daddy every third weekend and for a couple weeks in the summers. He is a loving father yet I had the majority of the responsibility of child-rearing. Until I was training to become a marriage and family therapist I was not aware of how deeply my need for love ran until I asked my teenage daughters a simple question while waiting in the aisle of Woolworth’s for our photograph to be taken. “Do you ever get angry at your dad, like you do with me?” Megan, three years younger than Erin said something like, “We want things to go well while we are with dad since we don’t see him that often, so we try not to cause trouble.” It was one of those light-bulb moments when I realized they felt safer with me to have all their feelings…honestly, I felt enlightened in that moment. And loved. I often wonder why certain moments are emboldened on my heart: Erin’s years ago statement during a conversation: “Manipulation isn’t always bad,” or Megan’s hand on my knee (tears) as she says, “I’ll always take care of you,” while driving on route 88 during her college years. Few statements are so clearly imbedded in me. They carry the ring of truth, as I am learning to love me, then others with true compassion. Spending the past week on vacation at my sister’s in Florida provided a challenging situation; would I be selfish and go to the only event I’d asked to do – a ballroom dance – or eat dinner with my sister and her two son’s families to please them and not risk their rejection of me? When my sister said I was putting her or her son out to drive me 20 minutes to the dance, I replied, “You can say no, that you don’t want to.” Previously that day, without complaint, she’d found on her iphone a place to dance and I had received 2 return phone calls (one from a woman who had graduated from Ithaca high school from which I had also graduated) confirming that there was a dance on Easter from 6-9 pm. It was as if the Design of the Universe was meaning for me to be there. I had eaten breakfast with the whole family that morning as well as attended my sister’s church, she knowing I’d prefer not to because I am free of religious dogma while striving to be on a spiritual path ‘designed’ by the life force of Love. I complied to make her happy, her one son admitting that he was surprised that I’d be in church. Happily, a long-ingrained guilt not to be selfish and fear of other’s not loving me played a much softer tune in the background of my heart than the one that said to trust myself – to love me, and to trust that my sister would still love me. She drove me to the dance. [While in my mind (or is it in my heart?) I reassure myself of my granddaughter Denali’s love (now 20 years old) remembering multiple ‘I love yous’ said during every phone call or parting. Same as Daddy’s spirit of love. No rote-automatic ‘love you’, only complete ‘I love you’, sometimes with the spice of ‘lots’ added.] When my nephew picked me up from the ballroom dance, (whom I don’t know well since we speak or write each other only once or twice a year) I was rewarded with an open, most respectfully honest conversation that would not have happened unless we were alone together. Also, an unexpected hug from a reticent-of-affection man. My journey to trust and therefore to loving mySelf grows as I am consistently aware of my tears appearing when I feel the loss of love: seeing the return of love like reunion- hugging in movies or hearing I love you, as a renewed togetherness. (to-get-her:) (It is now 11:11am:)