Quest 2016: Who Would Miss You When You’re Gone?

Your Quest2016 Prompt today: Seth Godin

Would they miss you if you were gone?

What would have to change for that question to lead to a better answer? #MissMe

This imperative interruption to a day that envisaged some creative application to a new book hooks me to answer.It saw me coming and set up a trip-wire. I still have difficulty ‘opening out’ the painful parts of life, not because I cannot confront them, but do wonder why they would be of interest to anyone else.(see nervous joiner!) So I will continue the dialogue with Olderwiser and keep it pithy.

Olderwiser ‘Who do you know that might or might not miss you?’

Plumscared. ‘Small, very small clutches. A few friends, mostly writers, and almost all virtual (so I would disappear with the speed of a twitter feed); a few readers (very few- who don’t know me anyway) and my daughters. Of those you might expect me to say my daughters would be likely to miss me. One would be devastated and until she would not be, I have to somehow stay alive. It’s a heavy responsibility! Two have rejected me for twenty years and I do not even know their children one of whom is eighteen. The fourth and youngest might miss me but I suspect not for very long, because she knows so little about me, although in some ways we are much alike. She has never read a story ,a book or a blog post, (or visited me on Facebook). She really knows so little about the inner, celebratory, honouring me. She only knows the questioning critic, the puritan.’

Olderwiser  ‘What would they miss? If they did.’

Plumscared  ‘The one that would, would miss her closest friend. We talk. About everything, share grief, celebrate joy. The two who might not even know I’d gone would perhaps miss the pleasure of inflicting a lot of pain, and the realisation that with my death, their family died with me. I hold all the memories of where they came from, and what could enrich their children’s history and identity. It would be buried.

The one, who might or might not, would miss returning home. She is currently sailing away, but might recall the reasons she turned her back. I know she finds it difficult having so much money, when I neither respect wealth, nor value what it affords. On that we lock horns. She indulges ( and can almost limitlessly) by helping very wealthy CEO’s become wealthier, while her sister squirrels to survive teaching the violin, playing it, and worrying about each and every pupil’s chances, and working in a pub to eat.

I cannot manage to obscure what I feel about the injustice of the world’s values, or how easily she accepts them. So she stays away, and I have had to let her go, but I know in the part of herself that is not materialistic we could be very close. We used to share mimicry, laughter and it seems to have disappeared. She used to be very funny. I miss that terribly.

One of those private moments for sisters
One of those private moments for sisters

Olderwiser ‘Now to the point of this. What would have to change to lead to a better answer?’

Plumscared. The history that cannoned though the landscape of my family and scarred it irrevocably is past. Only the devastation remains. Obviously the chasm lies ‘between’ and who I am, or what I might do, is the only part I can do something about.

Options: I could turn into a dog and lick whatever hand was held out? Unconditional love without judgement? That is what the Dalai Lama might say. It is theoretically possible but getting bitten accounts for the ‘plumscared’. Every time a bleeding throat and matted fur. Perhaps loving is also acceptance, and knowing when to surrender hope, and do something else without any? Ticked off last week.

I could turn actor, play Uriah Heep and pretend to approve what I can’t.  I could become a deaf-mute and hear, see and speak no evil and wring my hands appropriately. I would not be a natural, doubt I’d convince.

Or I could succumb to Alzheimer’s and forget and be grateful. (That is a distinct possibility and seems anxious to start. Forgetfulness improves daily without practice.) I could accept visits without recognising, or flinching, and be grateful for the nice box of chocolates.

Or I could write another book but this time one that dealt directly with the family they spurned, for the children I shall never know. It might help me to understand too.

Maybe, after that, if I do it well, a few might miss the chance they had to know me, the daughter’s children would get a kind of history- not absorbed as supper table talk, but something. It’s a way of talking to an absent family for both me and my loving daughter, who will be my cleanest and most honest critic. The readers might like another book of a different kind about George Eliot who comes into it, and Africa at the turn of the century, and the richest of galleon grandmothers with prejudices strong enough to break teeth in a plum pudding saga. What’s not to like?

That was what I was planning to start when this question interrupted. So if its okay with you I’ll just get on?

George_Eliot_by_Samuel_Laurence
George Eliot (1819-1880)

Samuel Laurence [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Author: philipparees

A writer ( mostly narrative poetry) of fiction and non-fiction. Self publisher of fiction and Involution-An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God (Runner-up Book of the Year (2013), One time builder ( Arts centre) Mother of four daughters: Companion of old man and old dog: One time gardener, lecturer, wannabe cellist, mostly enquirer of 'what's it all about', blogger and things as yet undiscovered.

12 thoughts on “Quest 2016: Who Would Miss You When You’re Gone?”

  1. Let the daughters go and live their own lives. It’s one of the most difficult but also one of the healthiest tasks a mother can achieve.

    … the richest of galleon grandmother’s with prejudices strong enough to break teeth in a plum pudding saga …this sounds plum 🙂

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    1. Rather frightened by the size of the challenge, which I have to say, all this self analysis has made very clear. The book in mind is huge because its theme is the destruction of a family ( through three generations) and would be worthy of George Eliot, only I am not her!

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  2. Dear Philippa, I really needed to hear this journey of daughters tonight. I have one but she’ll do across facets of daughterdom. Struggling to maintain an even keel but it helps to read your experience. Love the distance you are willing to take us. So glad you are questing, so love the conversation lens, self to self.

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    1. That you derive anything from it Tania is a great reassurance! This white water rafting through the personal does not come naturally but since what is left of life needs a ruthless wind of clarity, and half measures do not seem good enough (when that is the case), it is perhaps a necessary preparation!

      I am more than aware that any story of rejection (or oppression) inevitably implies some kind of ‘just deserts’ that it s a double exposure. As an only child I failed to become acquainted with jealousy and failed to recognise its subterranean poison. The book I now will try to write is about the patterns of destructive jealousy, those who sought its expression, and those totally blithe and unaware of it. There are countless books about the ill treatment of children, very few about the ill treatment of parents, yet many adoptive parents will tell you of their perplexity when rejected. I truly want to understand it because I know I don’t.

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  3. I for one would like very much to read the end product. And one never knows where these documents will end; I received, from a distant cousin, a memoir that had been left in a safe for about a hundred years, and which carried family information that had been lost entirely. The document was blunt and some of its details were frightening, but in context they helped to explain behavioral patterns that still resurfaced generations later. In short, what we put on paper now may provide a guide for those to come, in ways impossible for us to know.

    And who will miss me when I’m gone? God knows, some of us make few enough friends in our time, and have limited family. Perhaps the better measure is the depth of our relationships rather than their spread.

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    1. Me thoughts exactly K! I have always been a one-to-one friend because all friends ( few as they may be) are friends for different reasons. The different reasons might keep them apart if collected! This planned book feels like Everest at the moment, but I am convinced that patterns always cast shadows making repetitive patterns in the next generation, and maybe for good or ill those are the shadows that attract ( and repel). It is a rather big theme for your average memoir!

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    1. I am thinking on it Susan! Apart from the story of family I’d like it to also be the story of the gulf between Europe and Africa, the possibly unbridgeable gulf unless it is by revealing it. Thanks for reading.

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