Hello friends. Today, I thought I'd pick up where I left off in the story of the young Ursula. I wish I was a bit more organized as I keep searching back in my mind trying to arrange when things happened. I suppose the order doesn't matter so very much, but I'm trying to keep it all straight.
As I've been doing this exercise, I've also found myself encouraging others to do the same. To write their own story. Somehow, it helps to look at it with a bit more clarity. More honesty. Writing it down means you need to be careful of the details and try to think through the feelings, the smells and the reactions. As many of you have mentioned, it's a kind of therapy all it's own.
That last bit about Hal, Gavin's dad was one of those events in my life that I think changed me in some ways. It was the first time I'd stood up to someone and said a resounding 'NO!' I'm proud of that young woman. She made a strong choice. It was frightening, but it was strong all the same.
I'm finding as I go along that fear and strength often go together. I used to think that fear was weak but it doesn't have to be. Sometimes the fear simply reflects the reality. It can be both strong and fragile at the same time. Like a new leaf starting to unfurl. It's growing from it's own strength, and yet, it could be crushed by a misplaced step or a careless hand. But it can often bounce back even from such attacks.
The next event I want to share is one which, at the time it occured, I don't recall feeling exactly horrified about. However, for many years, I've felt this one was a huge loss to me. Perhaps at the age of 13, I didn't realize the implications of that moment in time. I didn't understand that I'd forever regret my mother's actions.
I believe that a lot of things had been escalating during this period. My mother's mental instability. My realization of the precarious place I was in. My rebelliousness. Our lack of financial resources. We were infested with rodents and insects and my father was now thousands of miles away so there was no one my mom felt she could ask for help. It seemed everything was conspiring against us.
And then, just like that, my mother decided to erase all the memories of what had been in the briefest puff of smoke. She took all of our family photos out to the burn barrel and set fire to the entire collection. I can still picture opening the back door and poking my head out, seeing her standing there, watching all those moments go up in smoke.
Most people are broken-hearted to see their precious memories turn to ash. Mama did it on purpose.
I can't recall how I knew what it was she was doing. I must have asked her at some point. I don't remember seeing her carry our photo books out. Maybe I did and I tried to forget.
I can tell you that I have regretted the loss of those photos all of my adult life. I know, they are just photos, but it makes me sad. No baby pictures, no sibling pictures, no vacation memories. I had used to pour over my parents wedding album at least once a month.
By God's grace, I had tucked away somewhere around 25 of my favorite photos. I'd had them in my bedroom at the time. I'm so grateful to have those today.
Times continued to get tougher as Mama retreated more and more into herself. Her 'weirdness' was a regular thing now. People from school began to tell me why they would never come to my house. They were scared of my mother, afraid she'd do them physical harm.
I became rebellious. I no longer obey my mother's directions. I ranted and screamed at her when she would follow me down the road, praying for me out loud. I turned up the radio as loud as I could to drown out the confusion I was feeling. Not that it helped, but I tried.