Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Wisdom Doesn’t Come Easy.

Ma loved the shade her summer hats provided.

When my mother died two things happened.  First, I lost one of the people who were most dear and precious to me.  And second, she didn’t leave me with any words of wisdom regarding the “meaning of life and why we’re here.” She didn’t uncover any big secret during her life and impart that to me on her deathbed.  No, instead Ma, my daughter M and I played “I Spy with My Little Eye” on what would be the eve of her departure to God knows where.  We laughed at the grey wall.  I never knew it was her last night. I thought there was still time for her to cough up some tidbit that would help me understand what this thing we call life is all about.

I realize unearthing the meaning of life is a huge topic and probably an impossible burden to have placed on my sweet Ma, especially at the end of her life when she was so terribly ill but in my defense, she was a wise woman and I just assumed she would say something that I could hang onto for the rest of my life.  Put an end to all this seeking and just sail on through without any effort or care until we hooked up in the great Hereafter. I mean it’s only fair.  She was my mother for God’s sake.  She was supposed part with something really great, incredibly profound and comforting that would explain my purpose for being here.

Ten years later, I still grieve for Ma.  Not the way I did initially but I think of her daily and every now and again I am overcome with sadness and I cry.  These sudden spurts of emotion are random and always unexpected.  I can pass a photo of her every day for months and not think too much about it and then one day out of the blue I’ll see the photo in a completely different way, as if for the first time, and I start to cry.  Like a baby.  Inconsolable sobbing. Snot-faced and red-eyed ugly.  It isn’t just a photo that can reduce me to tears either.  Anything can trigger it: an elderly woman with veiny hands and long piano fingers examines a mango in the grocery store; a baby in the park with dark chocolate eyes glances my way; a dog barks in the dead of night; a piece of pie in the fridge looks cold; a fallen leaf forlorn; a rock; a bird; a plane, a hat.  Anything can set me off really.  There’s no rhyme.  And there certainly is no reason.

Why does this happen?  What is it about this random, seemingly unconnected stuff that reminds me of Ma and touches my heart so deeply.  Maybe because it isn’t so random after all.  And it is connected.  All of it.  To Ma.  To me.  To you.  To God.

As it turns out, I did learn something profound through that whole journey of Ma getting ill and ultimately dying.  This probably shouldn’t have been the epic revelation it was but I can be a little dim sometimes.  Anyway, here’s the thing: it wasn’t Ma’s job to tell me the meaning of life, nor answer the big question of why we’re here.  That wasn’t her responsibility.  It’s mine. This is all part of my quest, my journey.  Her’s was entirely something else.  Between her and God.  None of my business.  And maybe she did know something and wouldn’t tell me because by doing so she would have robbed me of the chance to figure this out on my own.  What greater gift.  Ma was wise.

Diaries of the Breadman’s Daughter: Liberty Will Set You Free.

Liberty will set you free.

I started writing letters to God about twenty years ago.  At the time, I desperately needed to talk to someone and there wasn’t anyone in close proximity that I could tell this stuff to.  I could have gone to a shrink I suppose, but I’m not sure I thought this was all that shrink-worthy at the time.  In retrospect, it probably was.  It was just private, intimate, inside your head kind of material that you can’t really share with anyone human, no matter how much you love them and they love you.  So who do you turn to?  I remembered from those years at Christ Lutheran that Pastor M said you could always talk to God and he would listen – even to the worst of the worst.  Well that was me.  I was a long-time renegade from organized religion by this point, and the mere thought of getting down on my knees and praying out-loud, or even silently, was painful.  So I did what came naturally to me.  I wrote.

Little back story.  My first letters weren’t actually letters at all.  And they weren’t written in a Plain Jane Hilroy notebook either.  The first compilation of “prayers, petitions and pleas to God” were contained in a genuine bona fide journal. I can’t remember who gave it to me but I’m guessing it was my best friend B because we gave each other gifts like that.  It is one of those cloth covered dealios with sweet little flowers in pink and periwinkle and many many many daunting blank pages to fill. The word “LIBERTY” is engraved in gold leaf front and back, along with the words “Hand Made in England”, also engraved in gold leaf.

All this gold leaf and English pedigree seemed to not only endow this chronicle of my early interior life with virtues I surely didn’t possess but with magical powers as well.  And I have to say I still love the notion that by the mere act of writing in this supernatural diary I would be set free, just as all that gold leaf LIBERTY promised.  If there was a theme, some common thread woven throughout this first flowery treatise, it was the need for freedom and the desire to hit the road Jack. And of course, I needed God’s help to achieve this.  Really.

It is also filled with all kinds of “New Age” postulations, which looking back, make the older me both smile affectionately and cringe with horror.  A bit like looking at prehistoric photos of myself in bell bottoms.  What was I thinking?  Here’s the thing.  I’m not sure I was.  Thinking that is, at least not clearly.  But somewhere between the inside front cover inscription of “My Book of Gratitude, Love & Appreciation” and the last sentence “Thank you Father” some sense of clarity was achieved.  Not a lot.  But enough to begin this journey, to first get me the hell out of Dodge and then to begin having these daily conversations with God.

Dear God.  It’s me.