I have a very special place in my heart for my grandma Doris. And while I don’t tell her often enough, the fact that my eyes can well up with tears at the very mention of her name should speak volumes.
I am adopted, and at the age of eight I became a part of her family. I knew her before she became mine, since she taught Missionettes at a local church. The Missionette program was a program that helped to teach young girls the art of being “ladies.” I was a “bus kid,” bussed to church from the wrong side of the tracks. My grandma Doris, Auntie Wanda, Shirley and Harriett all had special strengths – characteristics that I aspired to as a young girl, and admire now as a woman. I was a good student, I think. I was focused, wanting so much to be like these amazing women.
She and her church friends were all so sophisticated and knowledgeable. I would like to believe that these amazing women had their flaws. Had my relationship with them been fleeting, I may have been able to convince myself that that was the case. But no such luck. I have had these women in my life for going on 40 years and they just get better and better with time. They are a constant example of the woman I want to be.
So I can’t help but wonder why, then, I am turning into Maxine.
You know, that obnoxious vamp of a granny always snarling her venom, saying all those things that others want to say, but wouldn’t. (Especially if they were a true lady!) Thank God that I have friends who filter me and are more often than not amused by my assessments. They continue to see my heart, knowing full-well I would never intentionally do or say anything that would hurt anyone. Still, I am grateful that I don’t have one of those bubbles that make it possible for people to read my thoughts, like they do in the cartoons.
There is a part of me that seems to be emerging with age and it terrifies me. I anticipate waking up one morning and there, standing in my mirror, will be Maxine – gray hair and wrinkled housecoat, my “girls” hanging down to my knees, coughing up phlegm and greeting the day with an overdose of sarcasm and a cold cup of coffee. It isn’t that I want to end up like her: I just seem to be morphing into her with each passing year.
How did I get here? Has life really knocked me around to the point that this is my destiny? Can I stop the process? Recently, I was sharing with a friend that I have found a rhythm to life that works for me, admitting to her that rarely am I disappointed in people anymore. Not because I am so enlightened that I can only see the good, but rather I automatically assume that people will disappoint me. And when they don’t, it is GLORIOUS! See what I mean? Even I know that just isn’t the way it should be.
Where has the innocence gone? And at what point did it get replaced with Maxine? What happened to that Odie-like quality I use to have? (You know Odie…Garfield’s fun and furry sidekick who’s always ready for whatever comes, annoying Garfield with his optimism and spunk.) I can’t truthfully recall the last time I saw my “inner Odie.” I am pretty convinced that Garfield and Maxine have her held hostage somewhere in their quest to take me over.
As I sit here and contemplate the whys, I have to admit that maybe I was never destined to be like the Jackie’s, or Sophia’s or Doris’ of the world. Even on my best days I can’t muster up their style and sophistication, and I am okay with that. However, neither was I meant to be Maxine. I don’t want Maxine to go away completely (she’s so darn amusing); I just don’t want her to have free rein. So my prayer today: Dear God, I don’t want to be Maxine.