Cherry On Top

by Bella Rum

Ha! Jeanie over at Marmelade Gypsy (don’t you love that blog name) gave Cul de sac Chronicles a Cherry On Top award. Thank you, Jeanie.

The rules that come with this award require me to:

1. Answer this question: If you had the chance to go back and change one thing in your life, would you, and what would it be?

I know a lot of people say they regret nothing because they wouldn’t be where they are today if they could go back and change things. This kind of question is a fantasy for a person like me. I have the opposite philosophy. I’m a fixer and I’d go back and fix everything if I could – right down to flossing more often.

In fact that’s a good place to start. I just realized this question is right up my alley. You know how I like to give tips. You’ll never get a better one than this. FLOSS! As they say, floss only the teeth you’d like to keep.

Okay. We’ve established that I would change things if I could. Let’s see. What would it be?

I wish I had asked my mother more about her dreams and her history and her recipes and her everything. I was only 23 when she died, and most of us are not all that interested in our parents at that age. We’re pretty sure we know everything about them. I’d barely begun to recognize that she was actually a person, not just my mother. I was not the most mature 23-year-old.

My mother didn’t share much about herself. She was quiet. An introvert surrounded by extreme extroverts, her voice was seldom heard. She was gentle, probably too gentle, and I believe that I perceived this as weakness. It took me a while to respect who she was or even to recognize who she was. Her introspective nature and my youth contributed to the mystery of what made her tick.

I love this photo of her because it’s proof of who she was before I knew her as my mother. It makes me wonder if she did have an idea of how beautiful she was. There was never any indication that she did. Everyone talked about how pretty she was but she seemed completely unaware of it, but in this photo there seems to be a self-awareness that I never saw in her. Perhaps she’s posing a bit for the photographer – even flirting. I’ve always wondered who snapped this shot. I can’t imagine her buying those boots or even wearing them. The toes are scuffed. Did she wear them for years? Did she love them?  Did someone give them to her? I love the breeches and the buttoned up white shirt. Did she ride? She had such style. I never saw any indication of this in the simple clothing that she wore around the house for years before discarding it. She is still a mystery to me.

She suffered from terrible depression – untreated. No one around her understood it and my father was not sympathetic. It probably baffled him and there was some shame attached to mental fragility back then. Hers was not a happy life. Too sensitive and gentle, fighting depression and alcoholism and probably very misunderstood by those who loved her, she lived a relatively short and even tragic life.

I beat myself up for a while after she died. As I matured, I forgave myself for not being wiser when I had almost no life experience that could have fostered wisdom. Still, it’s hard not to wish premature wisdom on my younger self. It would not have changed her life, but perhaps I would know more about the woman who was my mother. In spite of all her demons, she was a good mother. Truly. I felt loved by her.

2. Task number two! Pick six people for this award and let them know.
I’m not gonna pass muster on this rule. I nominate all of you. I know. I’m lame, but it’s just the way I roll. If you want to answer this question, I’d love to see what you would change. I’m a sucker for this sort of question. What would you do if… (fill in the blank).

3. The third and final thing is: thank the person who gave me the award.

This is the easiest part. Thank you for thinking of me Jeanie. I enjoy your blog so much. It’s a happy place and I love your photos and the way you share your experiences. You really are the cherry on top.