But, I Don't Want to Be Maxine …

[Previous Rural Farmgirl, April 2009 – May 2010]
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.

  1. Barb Knopp says:

    Grandma will be teary too when she reads this. It is wonderful that you have warm and fuzzy family and friend memories.

  2. Claire says:

    This made me laugh out loud! Thanks.

  3. Betty J. says:

    Rene, I, too, had a grandmother that lived a really rough life, but never complained. She started out in a soddy and came up from there. She died when I was a teenager and I miss her still. Grandpa was the same for me. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word. I never knew my father’s side of the family since he died when I was an infant. I often wonder what it would have been like to have him around.

    Bless you for your lady-like endeavors. We need more of that these days.

    Betty in Pasco

  4. Natalie says:

    Rene –

    Your insight is so fun – and so true…I too am surprised at the woman whose words come out of my own mouth – it is my voice, but it can’t be my words! I had to laugh at the fact that I know who Odie is.

    Fun piece – a grand tribute to your grandma…well done!

  5. Dalyn says:

    Renee darlin’ you aren’t the only one…and while I have some friends wh seem born Maxine’s and think it hilarious (when it’s really not) I can relate with you on the fear of becoming her. Age is supposed to soften us, right? Well, for some of us who feel we have seen, done, and lived thru too much, it’s just eaier to live with an expectation of disappointment. I am the sort that doesn’t let them get too close so that they have less opportunity of doing so…but I have found that I disappoint myself! *U* So, I have decided to pray for the love of Christ in my heart to love people for me. I simply can’t do it. I don’t think there’s much to be done about the "girls hanging down" at this point besides a dreadful surgery I’m not willing to go thru. Besides, I could buy so many chickens, goats, sheep, etc. with that kind of $$$!

  6. Charlotte says:

    As always, you made me laugh out loud especially when I think back of how often lately my "outside voice" is talking instead of my calm "inside voice". Maxine is definately alive and well in many of us with the pace of our harried lives. It all goes back to your thoughts on "Refueling" and I believe simplifying to be able to find what we truly need to find that sense of balance.

    Thanks again for making us laugh while we are still shaking our heads in agreement because it touches us in our every day lives! Keep smiling!

  7. Gary says:

    Beautifully written from the Heart Rene’…
    This Bloggie will ring a familiar "Bell" in anyone, and would likely make Grandma Doris *Smile*…
    in Tampa

  8. Marilyn says:

    As usual, God answered your prayer before you even spoke it. You are not Maxine – not yet, anyway. You are way too funny and way too pretty. I do love your blog and will keep coming back, and let me tell you, that’s saying A LOT because I typically don’t read blogs – not any. Keep writing Rene’. I feel like I’ve made a new friend.


    Thank you for you kindness. I love to write and I am especially glad when it speaks to others. Thanks for letting me know that I am not Maxine yet, I keep beating her off with a stick :)… friends indeed!

  9. ren says:

    What a blessing to have those women in our lives to be examples of goodness and optimism–and to have others treat us way more graciously than our Maxine-like tendencies deserve!

  10. Loretta Hoffmandname says:

    It is an extra tough Monday morning for me. Thank you for sharing a peice of your life. I am the one on the other end of the adoption. My daughter is 10, we home school so
    working is just a part of her life. We moved onto this little 5 acre farm 2 1/2 years ago. We adopted her when she was 6, but she had been with us since 9 mo. Your writing causes me to wish I could have one day of your time.
    So great to hear from another women who acknowledges her
    Heavenly Father.

  11. donna says:

    My Granny was 5 foot tall and weighed 98 pounds with a soaking weight towel on her. Her silver hair reached to the ground. She wore it in a beauitful braid warpped around her head. Her life was hard. We lived in Oklahoma at the time and she had gone thru war times, dust bowls, and she never complained. I too am adopted. One of her sons, was my dad. They were so happy when I came along. She lived by the farmers almanac. I have seen her eat buttermilk and cornbread for supper for that was all she had. Her garden grew better than any ones. Her vegtables were all organiac. Before it was popular. Vinegar is the best cleanner. She loved ice cream. You are right I dont want to be Maxine. I want to by my granny.

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