Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Magpie tale #49






I wanted to go downtown with Halley and her mother to watch the women light their bras and toss them into the Chicago river, but my mother said no like she always says to liberating ideas. So here I am alone,bored and snooping through my mother's photo album. I flip through a few pages and come upon the one and only photo of my grandmother. My mother never speaks of her, so why, I wonder, has she kept her photo.
I slide my fingernail along the edge and lift the glossy image from the decades old glue that has bound it there, and slip it into my pocket. I sneak off to my room, shut the door and lock it. And like some kind of contraband I lift the photo of my grandmother out of my pocket, and lay across my bed and stare at it. I stare at her in the middle of two other women,all of them wearing heavy coats, hats,and holding ice skates. She is a rather large woman with an almost irreverent smirk on her face. I turn the photo over and there, written in the most beautiful handwriting, were the words...three happy women
 My grandmother had the most bold of coats compared to the others,one with wide stripes that went all the way down, and her black hat was the biggest. I notice that she holds onto her skates in a very powerful manner.  I wish I had known her; all I know about her is that she caused a scandal in their little town by divorcing my grandfather, and leaving her children and going off to join the Universalists.
I guess in those days it was kind of like burning your bra, a strike of willful,shocking independence.
 I bet my grandmother would have been at the bridge downtown today if she were still alive. I bet she left my grandfather because she dared to speak her mind and dared to have her own thought on how things should be done. If only my mother were like her, I'd be at that bridge witnessing this history making act, but no, my mother is a traditional mother, cooking and cleaning.
As soon as I am old enough, I am going to leave this stifling environment and become a liberated woman, doing what I want to do. But as I flip the photo in my fingers I realize how much my mother looks like her mother and I  think...how could she leave her little daughter?  Three happy women, one lonely abandoned child.  
I take the photo and put it back into the album and realize how free my mother must be to keep it.


22 comments:

  1. A nice reflection on liberation...

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  2. Wow Sue, what a talent you have....

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  3. a nice roundabout way of discovering your mother

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  4. Wow, this is so beautiful.
    I like it that you found your mother through finding your grandmother.
    What a wonderful teller of tales you are.

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  5. Oh, my dear friend. Oh. I don't even know what to say to this.

    Thank you, I guess. Though it doesn't begin to cover it.

    Your ending was perfection.

    Your heart is big and open.

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  6. Wow. Amazing. This reminds me so much of my own paternal grandmother, a divorcee in the 20s when it just 'wasn't done.' I have a similar photo of her, except it is in summer and they are bathing beauties. She was a great unknown to me, even though she was around, sort of. Beautiful writing.

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  7. I think I would have liked your grandmother. Nice piece, Suz.

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  8. lovely family story.
    Happy Wednesday.

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  9. This is a great reflection on liberation...there is liberation and there is responsbility...and acceptance of responbility can be liberating in itself...they do not need be exclusive from one another....great write Suz....bkm

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  10. Beautiful, weaving history and personal narrative in the reverie of a photo, in the study of faces and postures and wills. Lovely.

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  11. Really liked this story, Suz. I couldn't help but be struck by the ending, and the implied realization of your mother's sadness/bitterness over what must have been a heartbreaking event.

    "...how free my mother must be..." begs for more of this story!

    Rick

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  12. Maybe your mother equates liberation with abandonment and wants to stop you from burning your bra and leaving.
    Great Magpie!

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  13. I wish I knew the real scoop on so many of my female relatives, wish I had a journal to read, a love letter, something that would tell me who they were and why I am.

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  14. I just inherited a trunk full of my grandmother's and grand aunt's pictures and correspondence. This post makes me want to go back there...I need to. This is beautiful, thank you!
    Connie

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  15. Hi! Can't even imagine divorce that long ago - the stigma it brings. Not to mention leaving children behind ... This is a great Magpie.

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  16. smiles...real freedom found within the appropriate boundaries...if we are free to do what we want whenever are we really free...pondering...nice write.

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  17. Freedom can be all in the mind...

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  18. the one telling this story slides her finger along the edge of the photo and breaths life into what was all over again. it is nice to witness such wonderful storytelling and history too... very nice!

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  19. Well woven history and contrasts of the times and actions coming to a wondering understanding...I liked it. I did wonder where it would go when I first read about tossing bras into the river..

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