I am honored to let you know that your blog post “Starting Again” has won first place in SCN’s blog competition. I read your piece and was deeply touched. I was so happy to read that final paragraph. Your post is a perfect example of just how important connection is in life.
We will be spreading this wonderful news on our SCN social media soon.
Congratulations, and my best to you.
Story Circle Network President
“The living mother-daughter relationship, you learn over and over again, is a constant choice between adaptation and acceptance.”
— Kelly Corrigan, Glitter and Glue
I rest a foot on my shovel, wipe the sweat from my forehead, survey my progress. Anytime I work outside, I can’t help thinking of my beloved auntie Gayle toiling tirelessly in her own flower beds. Mom’s younger sister, Auntie is like a second mother to me. She rarely wears shoes much preferring the feel of the earth beneath her bare feet. She would pull weeds while smoking a single cigarette, out of our sight (or so she believed). Her skin bronzed from hours under the sun, her freckles prominent across her nose and cheeks, she was happiest outdoors. As I squat down to tug at a weed, I remember Spring being her favorite season. At least until my uncle left. After he left, she was never the same.
In the beginning I tried to rally her, encourage her via phone calls, cards, but my immaturity, limited experience in the cruelties of life left me impatient, not compassionate enough. I’m ashamed to admit I never tried to know her again, I wanted to protect the memories I had of my fun-loving auntie from before.
Adrift in memories, I’m jarred when my phone rings.
“Your Aunt is dead.” Dad’s voice is calm, steady, matter of fact.
I drop my shovel; tears blur my vision.
“Lorinda,” Dad speaks more firmly, “Your mother needs you.”
And because she needs me, I go.
Crowded into my aunt’s tiny apartment bedroom, I peer at her withered shell cocooned in blankets. I brush a kiss across her hollow cheek, leave the room.
Mom is last to leave, but eventually I hear the door shut behind her. She takes hold of my hand, her grip painful, the cold wind whips at us. I’m struck with the unceremonious way in which two men carry Auntie’s body, zipped into a body bag, down two flights of stairs, roll it into the back of a minivan. She’s so slight, so small, she could easily pass for a bag of rubbish.
Once the van carrying Auntie’s body pulls away, I offer to take mom home. As we drive, it weighs heavy on my heart the distance that’s grown between us. Since coming out to her as gay then marrying my wife, our relationship has changed. Sure, we talk near daily at the gym where I work and she attends classes, but our conversation is surface. I long for more, I miss hanging out, I miss my mom.
My timing may not be ideal, I’m acting out of fear, but I love my mom. Love her so much the thought of living without her makes me gasp for air. Our relationship will never be perfect, we will continue to fail one another, I can live with that, can she?
Once I’ve pulled into her driveway, parked, I get out and walk her up the stairs. As she reaches for the door handle, I summon my courage, grab her hand.
“That could have been you in that body bag today.” My throat tightens.
“What would it matter then, Mom, if I’m gay or straight?” Mom’s face is white, whiter than I’ve ever seen it, but I continue.
“I want you in my life, mom.”
Mom is crying but she shakes her head defiantly.
“You have changed, Lorinda. You may not see it, but you have. I’ll never accept you being gay.” Her words hit as hard as they did the first time I heard them, but still I press on.
“Then don’t, but don’t shut me out either.” I’m pleading, desperate.
“We are going to die, too, someday. Why waste what time we have left because we don’t agree on this? I love you. I want to spend time with you. I miss you.”
By now Mom is sobbing. She pulls me into her arms, squeezes me tightly. My tense body relaxes, and I feel the prickle of tears in my nose.
“Oh, Lorinda. I do love you; I do! We will start again. From here on out, we will start again.”
A week after the funeral, six months after I’ve married and four months after we’ve moved into our new house, mom pulls into my driveway for the first time. I peer from the window as she approaches the porch. I don’t wait for her to ring the bell, instead I swing the door open wide. Cradled in her arms is a pot of sunshine daffodils and purple hibiscus. She hands the pot to me, a smile spreads across her face.
“Beautiful house, Lorinda.”
From the very first pages, Lorinda Boyer’s pile of confessions moved me. Lorinda is a master with a pen. She incomparably describes what it feels like to be a Christian woman who must comply with fulfilling the role of being a perfect, dutiful wife and mother at any cost. No saints exist in the pages of this exceptionally written memoir, yet what stands out is the way Lorinda writes about how much her beliefs, confusion, and other people’s actions or lack of them affected her behavior. Overall, Straight Enough by Lorinda Boyer is a triumph of embracing one’s identity, redefining love, expressing one true self, and freeing oneself from feeling unworthy of love. It portrays a flawed, loving woman who repetitively struggles with excruciating guilt and thoughts that say she deserves to be punished by God.Amanda from Reader’s Favorite
Congratulations, Lorinda! This is lovely!
Ah, the embrace of a mother “My tense body relaxes.” Beautiful, Lorinda.
Congrats! Such a moving story.