Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A CONUNDRUM OF RESPONSIBILITY

A CONUNDRUM OF RESPONSIBILITY *

*cause I 'borrowed' that phrase!!

Juliette wrote what was to me, a very heartfelt post about personal responsibilities to the human community at large. I couldn’t really make a comment worth anything because I was feeling overwhelmed at the thought that someone from the overdog class of society spending the amount of time that she did thinking about how much more she is getting out of existence simply by occupying her station, not that she either deserves or doesn’t deserve the things that she has, but how it is uncomfortable because so many things were conferred upon her because of luck, essentially.

Pictures of her on from her entries show a beautiful young lady and from the few entries I read, extremely bright as well as thoughtful. I would definitely give her the ‘Brandy Award’ (as in, ‘Brandy, you’re a fine girl… what a good wife she would be…), with the caveat that she would not lose her hearts desire and true love to the love of the sea (or whatever pursuit that would claim him).

I am hesitant to use the words, “I remember”, because I can’t, in all honesty, pull quotes of people verbatim, or even things I have either said or told myself. What I do know is how I ‘felt’ and the meanings of those feelings are still clear to me. Associated with those feelings are the essence of words and of actions with there attendant consequences.

Maybe Juliette is caught up by the relative largess in her life. She knows that there is a lot of suffering in the world today and for much of it you don’t have to go far. The unimaginable is much closer than you think. A few weeks ago, the Freep did a short story about a case that involved ‘white slavery’. Seems a 30 – something and 50 – something pair of Macomb county working stiffs had an advert for a want of domestic cleaning. A lady answered and they decided to keep her against her will and you can about imagine the rest of it. That story brought to mind Jaycee Duggard and her case. There was a line from a story as the massacre in Rwanda begin in a Time magazine and it was a nun who was there when it all broke out between the Hutu and the Tutsi… it went along the lines or ‘there not being a demon left in Hell because they were all set loose here’, or something to that effect.

I don’t know how old I was, but it was a different time, because my Mother would hand me her book of food stamps and send me off to the store. This trip was to a neighborhood supermarket that was nearby, one of the kind that dot urban cities, often independent, overpriced, and stocked with plenty of second- and third tier produce. Armed with a small list to pick up the food that we needed to feed Mom, Jan and my darling baby brother, I was stopped by a woman holding an infant child.

Everybody longs for a time where there were fewer homeless on the streets and the social safety net didn’t seem to be stretched as thin as it is now. But has not each century if not generation, had times of economic and employment despair that it was people looking out for one another, not knowing if they would one day be on the other end of the equation, looking for a way to survive. That is what I saw when I was approached by this woman. Though I only had a few food stamps and I know that my Mother meant for me to bring back her change, I could not bear the thought of this woman and her infant child going without when I knew that we at least had a meal for that day.

What I gave her couldn’t have been much but it was what was left. I don’t recall being punished and I am sure that I didn’t get any licks for sharing what little we had because the moment has lasted as a lesson for my life. I have been past the area where I was that child realizing that there was only one sure way he could contribute to the improvement in the world, and that was by one random act of kindness at a time.

A lot of what is inside me is still against going to Chicago, but my conversation with Hutch went a long way to changing my mind. I thought that I didn’t care enough about the fallout and never speaking to my sisters’ again until I heard his perspective. And I still don’t completely agree with his opinion of my reasons for not wanting to go, I can clearly understand the significance of my sister asking me to walk her down the aisle.

First of all, I simply want to do it for me. For the better parts of a decade I caculate, my life has been that of a ‘poseur Dad’ in the relationships (with my ex-wife, Tee Jay and Mookie Dee) that I have been a part of and I am sure that I am nothing but an ‘Oliver’ storyline in the lives of the daughters. As to my own girls, realistically, the most that I dare to hope for is that I get an invitation to their event and a seat at the table. I’d hate for any of them to have forgotten me or think I am part of the completely extraneous, unnecessary matter in their lives.

‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’. Despite my own personal feelings about my sister, OBVIOUSLY she shares none of the same kind of ‘less than good’ emotions that I have stocked in my library of memories about her and the rest of the gang. It feels good, as I said to him, to express what I feel deep down about my sisters and our relationships. But, of course, the hero business always has come down to me. I don’t want to take away from anyone’s narrative if it can be helped. So if my ex-wife needs to hate me, I do not feel that it is my place or in my power to change that feeling. Whatever she has constructed that allows her to live her life has made that dislike of me a integral part of her being able to live. So I let her.

Whatever it is that the twins think of me as a brother has inspired them to live the lives that they have led and they are undoubtedly the better for it. I know that the fiction they have told themselves about certain things is just that, a fiction, but what is past is past. Does not mean that all is forgiven but there has not been a petition for any, either. No one has asked for any because they do not feel it is necessary. There is no burden for them to have a need to beg forgiveness. Perhaps they are right.

But as Hutch and me talked about other things, a discussion about a person who has been a fixture in his life since I have been back in the area, he himself has created a storyline where he has ME alongside the other valued people in his life that were AGAINST his continuing the friendship with this person. In fact, there are still people close to him who have not changed their opinion of this person and feel that at some point in his life, this person who he himself thinks has sociopathic tendencies will bring some kind of ruin in his life.

But I know that I did not have anything negative to say to him about a relationship that I knew he wanted very badly. Being a lifelong bachelor and having all that room in his life, especially in his retirement from teaching, I felt that it was an adventure for him. He could again ‘live vicariously’ through this person and that his own sensing of what is good or bad for him would keep him, as well as his vast experience, from letting thing go spinning out of control.

When this particular topic thread came up and I heard the edge in his voice when he assigned to me ‘the world’ designation (as in, ‘it you and me against the world baby, the world), I sighed ever slightly. Let him have this part of his story. It is obviously more important that he believes what he believes than it is to me to correct something that I feel is inaccurate.

*sigh* Like my man Chi-Ali used to say… “man, I wish, I wish I was like Prince and getting’ all the honeys… but a brother like me is getting’ all the honeys ANYWAY… still, it would be nice!"

5 comments:

LceeL said...

You ARE going to let me know when you're here, in Chicago, right? You can call my Google voice number anytime - 815-556-9171 - just let me know.

Aurora said...

Everybody's version of thier life is 'fiction'. It's how we all see the world and prople in it so very very differently based on our own unique experiences, beliefs, perceptions, habits, etc.
There is no one truth. There are some truths shared by many, and some held by only one or two. Bu thier turth and your truth depend on the whole of who you are, and that is why one man's (or woman's)truth is another man's fiction.

Jonthy, Alice the uppity white cat's babysitter said...

Mark,
I think is is great that you are going to walk your sister down the aisle at her wedding. Try not to think about the past and celebrate your future.

Juliette said...

I am extremely touched by your flattering words, and your well-thought out comments on my blog always makes me smile. Thank you for taking the time to read the musings of an 18 year old girl with too much time on her hands.
I enjoyed reading your post and your honesty is refreshing.
Hope everything works out for you.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Glad you are thinking about going. You are making the right choice.