I’m kicking off Wednesday #TWITS: a fancy-schmancy acronym for Teachers Who I Think Scored / Teachers Who I Think Sucked. (It only took me eleventy bajillion hours to think up that one.) So here is my middle school memory about one very specific moment. Obviously, I have changed the teacher’s name.
• • •
In middle school, I had the meanest homeroom teacher. Unfortunately, she was also my English teacher, which meant I had double doses of her each day. Mrs. Dour ran a tight ship. She liked her rows straight. She liked her students quiet. She hated boys who leaned back in their chairs. She also hated girls who wore clogs. “Too noisy,” she complained. She called on people when their hands were down, and when she wrote words like “onomatopoeia” on the blackboard, she pressed so hard against the slate that the white chalk often crumbled into dust. Mrs. Dour wore her reddish-hair in a tight bun every day, but by 8th period, when I had her for English, most of her hair had fallen down, giving her a slightly deranged look.
I was pretty scared of her.
One June day, Mrs. Dour gave us all a 7-minute writing assignment during which time we were supposed to do something in our black and white composition notebooks.
I can’t remember what we were supposed to do because of what happened next.
Mrs. Dour turned her back to the class to write on the board. She was wearing a lightweight, white top and a long, gauzy, white skirt that day. I remember this because at that time I was preoccupied by what everyone wore. I noted in my superficial middle school manner that white did not flatter Mrs. Dour’s pasty complexion, and I planned to deconstruct her ensemble after class with my two friends during our bus ride home.
Right about then I noticed a small, reddish dot on the back of Mrs. Dour’s skirt.
Initially, I figured Mrs. Dour must have sat on one of her red felt-tipped markers. She was the only teacher who wrote in red felt-tip marker, and her fingers were often covered with red lines by the end of the day. While waiting for inspiration, I stared at the red mark on Mrs. Dour’s skirt – and I noticed the stain had grown larger. I looked around to see if I could catch anyone else’s eye, but everyone was madly engaged in our teacher’s in-class activity. As Mrs. Dour’s hand carefully crafted perfect cursive letters, I tracked the red as it spread across her bottom. What started out first as a dot, morphed into a quarter-sized circle and rapidly grew into an asymmetrical patch of red, the size of my adolescent fist.
I remembered how, midway through that year during gym class, we girls had been made to watch The Movie, a film created to explain what was starting to happen to our female parts. Our innards. I learned why some of us had boobies already and why some of us would have to wait. (In my case, years. Stupid hormones.) I remembered how we had grabbed each other’s hands as we huddled together in the gymnasium, trying to stifle our giggles. And before we left the locker room that day, each of us received a plastic “goodie-bag” filled with a cute little free sample of mouthwash, some deodorant, two sanitary napkins, and two tampons.
So I knew what was going on.
Meanwhile, I waited for someone else to notice. Or do something.
But as I watched the hand on the clock do that backwards-to-go-forwards click, I realized I was going to have to be The One.
I quietly pushed back my chair and, leaving my clogs behind so as not to make noise, I tiptoed across the room to join Mrs. Dour at the board.
She saw me out of the corner of her eye but kept writing, her back to the class.
How I wanted her to turn sideways and look at me, but she didn’t.
“Is there a problem?” Mrs. Dour snapped without so much as glancing my way.
If she had looked at me, I could have been more discreet. Instead, I fumbled for words. It hadn’t occurred to me to get the words right and then approach Mrs. Dour. My feet had just moved me to where I needed to go. I figured the words would follow.
“Yes,” I said.
Mrs. Dour spat, “Well, what is it?”
Heads popped up.
As inaudibly as I possibly could, I whispered: “There is blood all over the back of your skirt.”
Mrs. Dour, whom I had always assumed to be very old, was probably in her late forties. She was always so terse; she came off like The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz, which definitely added a decade of scowl lines to her deeply furrowed forehead.
So there I was, Dorothy Gale, stuck in the tornado that was Mrs. Dour.
“Come with me!” Mrs. Dour growled. She took my left arm firmly and escorted me from her desk to the door which she snatched open. Together, we marched directly across the hall to the student bathroom where Mrs. Dour disappeared behind a stall door.
I stood by a trio of sinks, waiting for directions. For divine intervention. For Mrs. Dour to tell me to go. Or stay. Or something.
I didn’t expect Mrs. Dour to cry.
But that is exactly what she did.
From behind the stall, I could hear her pulling the terrible, industrial squares of toilet paper and weeping.
For the first time, I stopped seeing my English teacher as Mean Ole Mrs. Dour, the persnickety disciplinarian with all those rigid rules: the woman who gave me detention at least once a week.
I saw her as a small, embarrassed, woman who didn’t know what to do.
I looked at myself in the mirror and found enough courage to ask Mrs. Dour if there was anything that I could do for her.
My voice echoed against the empty bathroom walls.
“Do you think many people… saw?” Mrs. Dour asked.
“I don’t think so,” I lied.
Truth be told, I suspected that nearly everyone had seen the mess on the back of Mrs. Dour’s skirt, and if they hadn’t seen it with their own eyes, the people who had were likely telling everyone who hadn’t.
I was pretty sure that would be the end of Mrs. Dour. After suffering such public humiliation, I was positive she would resign that afternoon.
But Mrs. Dour was in homeroom the very next day. She was not any nicer. She continued to do her job just as she had before.
She continued to complain about the girls who wore clogs. She continued to issue me my weekly detention. Mrs. Dour was not a nice teacher. I cannot remember any books that I read or projects that I did that year. I remember only that single incident. But I learned something important from her nevertheless.
I learned that sometimes a person has to push through her fear no matter how scared she might be and just keep moving forward. Sometimes, you have to take a deep breath and face the thing that you fear: which in this case – as is often the case – is the fear of ridicule or the laughing masses. Because sometimes that’s all you can do.
I suppose Mrs. Dour did teach me one other lesson.
A teacher myself, I can tell you I have never, ever worn a white skirt.
And I never will.
When is the last time you were truly afraid? What got you to push past your fear?
You know the answer to this already, so I will just say hi. Great bloggie 🙂
Yes, I saw your comment on Facebook. Thank you.
In 2006 I was in line for that triple by-pass two days away. But the doctors came in and said I was going RIGHT NOW . (Left out the exclamation point because Lynn Truss says it’s overused. Should I replace it with the term Holy Sh*t?).
The reason was that they had a “cancellation”. Well, we know what that means don’t we? I knew I was not going to survive. As they wheeled me in, I was not asceards (NY talk term for afraid). I was at peace. I was going home 4 years, 14 days clean and sober. The clock that ticked back before it clicked forward – you mean that was a nation-wide thing? And that’s 20 years after my generation.
Okay, you win. That is life-altering terrifying.
Much more worthy of terror than bleeding through a white skirt in front of twenty-five teenagers, one of whom might write about the incident one day.
And yeah, we had really old clocks. 😉
God, you’re such an amazing writer. I held my breath throughout this entire post, scared, nervous, anxious. Phew!!!
Liz: So, is that the most scared you’ve been in a while? I’m glad I helped you push past your fear. 😉
Ha! Close, but no.
The most scared I’ve ever been was waiting for my mum to come out of heart surgery. The procedure was meant to take 45 minutes. FOUR hours later, the doctor himSELF came to find me.
I seriously just about peed my pants, I was so terrified that he was going to tell me she’d died. She hadn’t, but she HAD suffered a heart attack while in surgery, so the procedure was cancelled and did I want to see her?
I tiptoed in, she was gray. Gray. It was awful. Somehow – and only God knows how – I managed to keep it together long enough to smile and chat easily, so as not to frighten her more, as she hadn’t yet been told that the procedure hadn’t gone as planned.
As soon as the nurse whisked her away to the recovery room, I slid, boneless, to the floor, weeping.
Ugh. Just writing this out has me tearing up. But…well…you asked.
Great post, by the way! 😉
Wonderful story of overcoming fear, stepping up and perseverance! You’re an amazing writer, Renee!
That never happened to any of my teachers but there was a girl named Julie in 7th grade who wore a white skirt and got her period for the first time. I went to a small Christian school so that news spread like wildfire. I’ve never worn a white skirt since.
The last time I was truly afraid was when I decided to quit my day job. Whenever I thought of finances, I’d freak out. When I remembered why I was quitting, I’d instantly calm down. It was the right decision then and I still don’t have any regrets.
That poor, poor girl. The fact that you still remember means everyone else does, too. She probably has never come to a reunion. Ever.
Finances are scary. Especially these days. But if you are miserable in a job, I truly believe your mental health is more important. Seems like the moment you commit to it, G-d opens a window. Sometimes even a door! 😉
Wow… great story! I heard that story years ago, but never in such great detail. Funny thing is I picture the whole setting in my mind because my son is at that middle school going into 8th grade… mostly I picture those bathrooms… the nervous anxiety and fear and insecurity I felt in them. I have used those bathrooms in recent years and I swear they look and smell the same!
As far as being truly afraid, I have to say I live in fear all day, everyday, of something happening to my children. That is true fear. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Yes, I have had plenty of times that I have been afraid of other things. I have found the strength to push through, but my children are to me the most precious, fragile, beautiful beings and I can’t imagine a world without them running around, smiling and being happy.
Those bathrooms were so dark and the ceilings so low. They were kind of cave-like. I felt terrible for… ahem…THAT teacher, but she taught me to stick to black pants. Or black skirts. Sometimes I will venture into gray or brown, but never, ever white.
As for your kids, I know what you mean about worrying about them. Monkey is at overnight camp — you know the one. He will be home after being away for 3 weeks. I miss him, and I can’t wait to see him. It is a profound act of courage to let him go each year, but I know he loves it. And he grows so much when he is forced to be independent. But if something ever happened to him while he was away. I don’t know how I could live with myself. I have a lot of faith on that front, that what we are doing is good for him. Having him go off each summer with his friends has actually taught me to have faith and worry less.
Dang. Great post. Jiminy Crickets.
The last time I was truly scared out of my wits was when I found out my girlfriend (now wife) was all sorts of knocked up. We went and visited a local clinic to be sure. What I remember most was this feeling that my life was over. Oh how wrong I was. My life was just beginning. That was 12 and a half years ago. Now my little girl is going to start Middle School in a couple of weeks (and turning 12 on the 17th of September). She is looking forward to playing soccer for the school team, expanding her knowledge of the french horn, and joining student council. She is hoping to get her math and English scores up even higher than they currently are (she’s an honor roll student and a perfectionist). She wants to go to the school my sister-in-law teaches at in DC (and I hope she gets in despite having to figure out how to pay $50k/year for high school). She is a constant reminder that “mistakes” are often the things we learn and grow from the most.
Have you ever seen the video for “There Goes My Life?” by Kenny Chesney? Whether you’re a country music fan or not, I think you’ll appreciate it!
Eric, that is a beautiful piece of writing! You should copy and paste it to your own blog! 😉 What a wonderful way to see how our best laid plans can (and sometimes must) change and that the outcomes can be surprisingly wonderful.
Ah, yes. It is hard for students to see teachers as human beings…(even those of us destined to be teachers ourselves).
Unfortunately, I probably had more teachers who sucked than scored over the years; so I always tried to be the type who made a difference.
I wonder if Mrs. Dour has any idea of the impression she made on you, or the indirect lessons she taught.
Speaking of which – I’ve been on vacation (if you can call visiting family in three different towns by car with two kids and two dogs and sleeping on pull-out guest beds a “vacation”) and I’ve missed the lessons here.
Welcome home, Julie.
You are allowed to go on vacation.
I’m not leaving you.
I don’t think “Mrs. Dour” had any idea about the impression me made on me. Truth be told, I hope I never see her again.
GREAT READ! The only thing I can think of that truely scared me was the day my daughter was born and I was told she might not live through the night. That next year, was filled with daily triumphs and very scarey set backs. No one is ever prepared for motherhood, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for Elizabeth. What started out as the scarriest moment of my life has turned into the greatest joy! However, I am faced again with fear, as she will be undergoing openheart surery next week.
Sending good vibes your way as your daughter prepares for her surgery. Positively terrifying. It’s like Jodi said, it’s positively terrifying trying to imagine anything ever happening to our most precious people. I will pray for Elizabeth! 😉
Around that age, in 8th grade, I had a homeroom/English teacher who ate nails for breakfast and spit shrapnel at kids during lunch. I never got any lesson from her other than seeing another human I never wanted to ever be like or around again.
The bad ones remind us of what not to do, right?
This was a great story and I love your message. I think I have always faced my fears believing I can get through about anything. I was most afraid when my daughter suffered what I thought may have been a stroke in the 5th grade. After the doctors ran every test imaginable, they concluded it was migraine causing the inability to speak and left side weakness. Now that was scary!!!
Susie: As a migraine sufferer with a child and a husband who suffer from migraines, I know how debilitating they can be. How terrifying, to have a migraine take away your daughter’s ability to speak. I hope that is all in the past now!
I’m not sure who I was more afraid for: Mrs. Dour, or you. I’ve heard of things like that happening, but can’t believe you lived through it. And a white skirt, of all things. Bet you never saw that white skirt again that year. I don’t think I would have had the courage to say anything. I would’ve just sat there and felt uncomfortable until a brave young woman like yourself stepped up to the plate.
Very well done piece. I was on the edge of my seat. I can’t right now think of anything scary that I faced, unless you count the call center at a credit card company. Maybe something will come to me later.
I was not brave. I was stupid. Mrs. Dour hated me more after that. If only I had learned to sit quietly in my seat. Sadly, that is a lesson I seem to never have learned. Look at me now, I have to run my own show. 😉
I remember how much you hated that job at the call center.
So. Mind-numbingly. Awful.
So. Not. You.
Great piece of writing. And I will never, ever wear a white skirt.
Last time I was truly afraid was this past Spring, right before, during and after an interview for a math teaching fellowship. It had been my dream for almost two years. I was terrified for so many reasons. Mostly, it was a fear of failure. A fear that stopped me from trying my hand at sports, music and so many other things growing up.
I had to wait a month to find out if I got chosen. I could barely sleep. But when I did find out and was offered the fellowship, it was worth it all.
Definitely do not wear white. Ever. 😉 So is this the fellowship that you have been waiting for? Is this about to happen for you? You should read my post Under the tab “This Twits Greatest Hits” for new teachers. It was Freshly Pressed last year. It might give you some advice you hadn’t thought about before. 😉
Your compassion outweighed your fear. I was not surprised by your choice one bit. It seems Ms. Dour chose to pretend as if the incident never occurred. She would have had to acknowledge it if she changed her behavior toward you. I would like to think she was secretly grateful and that you will receive a small remembrance when she passes. If she has passed and you received nothing, it is only because she was unaware of your current surname. ;}
I have so many examples of having to push through fear that I hardly know where to begin. I guess I’ll choose one of the most dramatic episodes.
I volunteered for a High Risk Youth program for a decade. I worked during the day and volunteered in the evening. This often meant going to community centers in shabby, gang-ridden neighborhoods. One night after having gotten lost numerous times, I finally arrived at one particularly dark and scary looking building. As I was nearing the front door a man stepped out and said he wanted to speak to me. He warned that our program was costing his gang some recruits and that we weren’t welcome on his turf. I’m small and this very large, rough looking man was about three inches from my face. I gathered every ounce of Irish Warrior Woman courage and replied that everyone should have options and he was probably where he was because he was never given a choice. He spit on the sidewalk and I continued, ” It’s just the two of us here right now. You can slit my throat and walk away and no one would ever know what happened. But I will continue to volunteer for this program and if I have something to offer that you don’t, or I’m more appealing than you are, then they’re mine.” He laughed and introduced himself as Hector. He won some and we won some, but we had enough respect from this gang leader that he and his people would occasionally show up at functions when they thought we would be harrassed in some way. I could never condone his actions, but I must admit a grudging respect for his occasional demonstrations of humanity. I’m certain he felt the same way about me.
This. is. awesome.
You. Are. So. Cool.
The last time I was truly afraid was right after I told a not-kindly neighbor he needed to stopping beating his dog. Still, that didn’t stop me from saying the same a second time.
After the second time I told him that–and called SPCA–the beatings stopped, but I was anxious for several weeks afterward. I don’t trust someone who takes joy in hurting other living creatures to behave well when confronted with his wrongdoings.
Deb: Run-ins with neighbors are never fun, but you know you did the right thing, right? You do know that. Both times.
I absolutely LOVE this story!!! It is sweet, tender, sad and compassionate. It really touched my heart. You are a great writer, Renee!
Thanks Rie! Mrs. Dour was really mean. I wish I could say that I didn’t laugh about this. (Back then, I was slightly less compassionate.) But as an adult, I can see my old teacher’s humanity so much more and appreciate her fragility.
What a fab piece of writing. I started out hating Mrs. D with you. Then I was Mrs D. Then I was a bit pissed she hadn’t learned anything. Yup, I went for a ride and you drove the car well. (Metaphor fail).
I’m thankful I’ve never known true fear.
Although I was scared out of my pants in 1997 when I was lying face down in the middle of a golf course with the craziest rain/lightning storm around me. And a zillion mosquitoes.
Well, it’s the farm girl in you, Leanne.
I mean, you grew up driving major machinery at — what — 5 years old, machines that could cut off your limbs. I’m guessing a major thunder & lightning storm on a golf course could be really scary. Especially if you were holding your metal clubs.
You weren’t, were you?
And thanks for the high praise. 😉
You are a truly gifted writer and a delight to read. I love that you involve your readers with a question at the end of each post.
When was the last time I was truly afraid and what did I do to push through it? Signing my divorce papers then going back to my big empty house which wasn’t mine anymore was the last time I was afraid. Life as I knew it was changed forever and I was on my own with a chronic illness that makes it hard to think straight some days. I pushed through it with the help of my trusty dog, Scrappy, my family, and with a firm faith in how courageous a person I am. I told myself I had two choices: give up or get on with life. No one would want to hang around a whinner, so I chose to be a winner.
Lorna, you are too kind.
Divorce must be terrifying. Everyone I know who has been though it says that after one year they wish they had done it sooner. Still, when you finally make the decision, it has to be terribly frightening — especially knowing you would have to take care of yourself when you were not well. That is true fear.
Dogs are good. I wish we could have one.
You go, Lorna! My brave Youth Crisis Volunteer days came directly on the heels of my divorce. Like you, I lost my home and had to find some way to channel new found courage. I should add it takes infinitely more courage to stand up against chronic illness than any misbegotten punk. You are my heroine! T
Oh no! How embarrassing for her! But a great story on overcoming fears and embarrassment.
Hi LJ: Nice to meet you! It was embarrassing for her, no doubt. At the time, I had less compassion. Thank you for your kind words. 😉
For several weeks after moving to Istanbul, I had full-on panic attacks. I’ve never had them before. But there I was, hyperventilating, skin on fire, heart racing, shaking uncontrollably…all at the thought of going to the supermarket. While I was in the middle of one, all I could do was just concentrate on my breathing and try to visualize how minor the task actually was. Eventually I would calm down and when I could trust that it wasn’t coming back right away, I’d march out of the apartment because I’ll be damned if I let a bag of groceries defeat me! 🙂
Oh yeah! I can’t believe I forgot about this until I was typing this comment! There was a serial killer at my college at the start of my sophomore year. A girl was found dead in her apartment. The next morning, two girls – roommates – were found dead. That night, girls were staying at their boyfriends’ houses. The next morning, a girl and her live-in boyfriend were found dead. That’s when people really started freaking out. No one wanted to stay alone or even with a friend, so there were ‘slumber parties’ of at least 6 or more all across town. (There were dorms, but the majority of students lived off-campus).
I remember going to my apartment (I lived alone, off-campus, in an apartment that I actually broke into myself when I locked my keys inside. Jimmied the window open WITH A SPOON.) to get some fresh clothes. It was broad daylight and I was scared enough that I kept a kitchen knife with me while I rushed around packing as fast as I could. I’d just found out that the current suspect was a kid who’d sat behind me every day in a bio lecture over the summer. Turned out not to be him, but I didn’t know that at the time.
I kept my bed against the wall for about 5 years after that. I refused to leave school, like a lot of people did, (again – I’m stubborn. No way I was letting some sick bastard determine my decisions for me!) but I’m still a little neurotic about making sure the house is secure before I go to sleep.
Oh, and there was one funny thing about that situation. When I called my mother in NY (college was in Fla) to tell her that a bunch of us would be camping out at a friend’s apartment, she asked if there would be boys. I said yes, that they’d be in the living room sleeping with their baseball bats. She said, “Well, just make sure you don’t go from the frying pan into the fire!”
That’s a Catholic mother for you. The frying pan was being stabbed to death in my bed and then decapitated. The FIRE, however, was possibly having sex. I suppose in her mind, the first would be horrible but then over, but the second would earn me eternal damnation 😉
Okay, so you were at Gainesville?! I totally remember that whole serial killer thing. I was teaching in New Orleans and one of the new teachers in the department had just graduated and she commented how happy she was to get out of Gainesville and be “safe in New Orleans.” Um, New Orleans was a lot of things, but safe was not one of them.
At least not then.
Yup, I was there. And my mother wanted me to ‘be safe’ by coming home and going to college in the Bronx.
Ha! That is a pretty funny footnote. Especially in the ’90s. That said, the panic attacks in Istanbul were probably pretty terrifying, too. You are a tough cookie, Cookie. 😉
What a fantastic post with which to kick of a brilliant idea! I truly look forward to reading more of these. My English teacher was one of my better teachers – something I’ll always be grateful for.
As for the last time I was truly afraid? I’m kind of experiencing it right now. The adernalin-inducing, “do or die” fear is the kind I am more comfortable around but the one that’s gripping me at the moment is much worse because it leads to inaction.
I’m currently battling the fear of not being good enough. It’ll pass; what I hate most is that I am not writing. I’ve started about four posts but have been completely unable to get past the first paragraph. I’m fighting it with everything I’ve got though and I will get through it. The best thing I’ve found for this kind of fear is friends and family; the two most precious commodities!
Christian! Every time you say things like this I am truly incredulous. Don’t pressure yourself. Summertime, people are away and readership is down. Maybe just use the time to write and start publishing in September again. No one is going to stop their subscriptions to you. Just focus on quality.
But maybe four paragraphs is enough.
I wish I could say what I need to say in four paragraphs. 😉
Renee, you are too kind. Maybe a “publishing break” is just what I need. 🙂
Haha, I’m very glad that you can’t fit things into four paragraphs! 😉
Christian, for real, I think you just have to exercise your “writing muscle” and not be afraid to suck. I have written a lot of bad stuff. I even had a failed contest. Number of entrants: one.
But just write. Maybe not even at the computer. Maybe on paper. That’s how I break the cycle of fear. When at the computer, it feels so serious. Writing on a pad, you can enjoy the pen… like back in the good ole days. Hope that helps.
Fabulous post! She reminds me of my 8th grade English teacher, without the white skirt stuff. My teacher called me out into the hallway to remind me to cross my legs while sitting when wearing a mini skirt- good advice that did nothing to endear her to me at the time.
The last time I was truly afraid? September 11, 2006, flying from LA to New Jersey with my boyfriend-at-the-time and his five newly-custody-changed kids, to start our new life together. What got me to push past the fear? Six people counting on me to not run away.
JM: (I’ll stick to your code name here) Yeah, I’d be superstitious about flying on 9/11, too. But Im glad you made the trip. I feel like pushing past any kind of fear is always a triumph. 😉
Oh hell, I barely even thought of the date. It was the kids that terrified me.
I was really afraid to start blogging. I mean, who on earth would want to read what I had to say? But I knew it was a step I had to take to grow as a writer. So I sucked it up and hit the publish button. With a great deal of help and support from Kristen Lamb. Thanks for a great blog.
Piper, you are one of my favorite people to read. Your brain has such an amazing grasp of… everything. Your range is amazing: humor, politics, mystery. You can do it all. I kind of want to be you and I am honored to have met you in this blogershere. You have truly been such an encouraging presence. You have taught me much about how to be my best self and how to help others, too. I hope you see this. Maybe I’d better tweet you. Hmmm. 😉
This may be a duplicate – at first I wanted to react to your story and you did what you had to do – you extended kindness and for a moment I thought Mrs. Dour would thaw and change, but she didn’t. It took courage I think we all push past our fears and do the right thing or at least we try….
Push past fear… hmm… many times, but it the first one to come to mind was when my dad fell a couple of years ago and he was in the hospital, we had had a falling out and were estranged. We had had a strained relationship going back to when he decided to move away from family – all family and live in Mississippi by himself with his wife, my step-mom. I grew up in the Houston area and now live near Chicago and he could have retired in Houston, but he chose Mississippi, instead. My step-mom called Friday evening, almost two days after the accident and told me – leaving a message. She called my brothers as well. I called her back and she filled me in on the details: head trauma, fall down the stairs, ICU, unconscious, and I could picture her and my dad, all alone. I was torn. We had scarcely spoken in the past five years and when we had spoken, it was strained, at best. I conferred with my wife and we talked, I prayed, and I called my step-mom back. I called the airlines and arranged to fly to Memphis and drive to Mississippi early the next morning. I didn’t sleep much that night or the next few days, but I went and arrived at the hospital, not knowing what to expect. He was lying unconscious, hooked to monitors and he was smaller than I remember, frail, and old. I was scared, what could I say, what should I say, so I said what came to my mind – I am sorry, forgive me and I spoke from the heart. At one point, he seemed to recognize me and reached out to hug, embrace, and touch me. I hugged back and told him the only thing I could think of – I loved him. We could only stay for a short visit, but we came back for every visitation until I had to leave the next afternoon. He lingered for a few more weeks before passing away, never fully regaining consciousness. I was scared when I walked into that hospital room and I got a glimpse of the future and I was even more scared. I am glad I went, it was scary, but it was I needed to do.
Clay: Yours is a timely post for me, whether you know it or not. I know a lot about pain and forgiveness. And facing demons from one’s past. That said, it was very big of you to go and see your father with whom you had not had a relationship. I know what that feels like.
I imagine you have some peace, knowing you did the right thing. Can you imagine if you hadn’t gone? You would likely be living with regret and guilt after all these years. 😉
I am sorry to hear of your pain. I am glad I took the steps I did and I regret I did not step forward sooner. However, the summer of 2009 was the ‘summer of dad’ and his passing. He did not want a funeral or a service and it left a hole for my brothers and I. He wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread in France. Last summer, in June 2010, my brothers and I travelled to France with my step-mother and my dad’s cremains. It was a great experience and we spread his ashes in northern France where he wanted to spend eternity. I have reached closure and have spent this summer celebrating family and visiting with in-laws (who I like) and my mom, recently in Texas. I blogged about our trip when MtDC was in its infancy and I still think of those posts as some of my best.
The perfectly visual way you’ve helped me see her, makes her decision to keep on going even more courageous.
You know her instinct of self preservation told her to just ball up and die, but she came back to work the next day.
Excellent way, how you made me feel her shame.
Thank you. It was a pretty awful day. Tried to give you everything as best I could.
I somehow missed this post of yours. Wow, just wow! I was right there with you. I even felt kind of sorry for mean, ol’ Mrs. Dour!
I’ve been truly afraid twice in my life; when my mother died, and when my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. I got through both in my usual way of pushing forward and trying to control the situation as best I could. At least both things always make any of my other troubles seem like small potatoes! 🙂