Lori Thatcher

Writing and Thinking about writing

Ribbons

3 Comments

It was long after my father died that I realized I had no idea of who he really was. I didn’t know what he thought or dreamed about or even much of what he liked. I never asked him. He seemed to have a gift of taking away my voice. In my memories of my childhood, I see myself, for the most part, as mute in his presence.

Our only meeting place seemed to be horses, riding together and going to the events I participated in as a teenager. It was the closest connection we had, but even around the horses, disapproval hovered like a stifling cloud in the air. I was never quite good enough, fast enough, sharp enough. I didn’t mount cleanly and my balance wasn’t as good as it should be and if I only weighed 20 pounds less, I would be able to beat anyone.

            We were going out for a hamburger after the show at the Montague Homecoming Fair and I was looking forward to parking at the A&W and ordering a cold root beer in a frosty heavy glass mug which the car hop would place on a tray clamped to the car window. We detoured down Davis Street and pulled into the driveway beside Mrs. McCloud’s house where she was sitting on the side porch.  I thought for a second my father was going to brag about my championship ribbon. It was beautiful, with a gold medallion and three streamers, red, yellow and blue. And he did, sort of. He held up the ribbon and she clapped her hands, but then he held up my five second-place red ribbons and said “How do you like my second place daughter?”

I cringed, but I also felt a white hot ball of fury in my stomach. The championship was awarded for the highest combined points of the day, and although five people had won first places in front of my five second places, they were five different people and they each had less cumulative points than I did. Today had been a rare time when I didn’t get at least one first place, and I still won the championship.

There were robins hopping around on the lawn of the house next to the driveway. I remember I focused on them trying to guess which one would find a worm first. If I concentrated hard enough, I hardly could hear the rest of their conversation.

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3 thoughts on “Ribbons

  1. That’s a rather sad story. I can only try to imagine what that must have felt like.

    I never had any experience like that with my mum, but a few years after her passing, I too realized that I didn’t know her at all. She talked A LOT, but never about anything personal and I hardly ever asked. My father passed away when I was two and now I’m left with all the questions that will never be answered.

    • Yes, I agree it was rather sad, but it is part of my story.

      Many kids grow up not really knowing their parents. They don’t even realize they will want to know more at some time and if they do have questions, many don’t know how to ask them. At some point, it’s too late and then perhaps they will have questions that remain unanswered.

      I do find, however, that looking at what happened in my family allows me to turn a kind eye on my parents with all their faults and deficiencies.

  2. You are absolutely right, Lori, that knowing our parents’ pain causes us to understand their failures. In the same way, knowing our pain will help our children understand our failures. And who doesn’t need that?
    The most unkind family member I know of suffered a horrible life or rejection from her parents. Knowing that helps me brave her unkindness with charity.
    Good writing, too. Attracting.

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