It’s too late to . . .

Good morning from the mini-Acre.

We are products of systems and processes. More often then we care to admit we get caught up in the process and are influenced by the system in such a way we lose ourselves. We attempt to control the uncontrollable only to find ourselves somewhat frustrated, increasingly fearful, and mostly flummoxed by both what is happening, but also what we perceive as options to the circumstances.

It is stunning to me that another year is almost concluded. It has been a year of unexpected events and decisions and consequences. It has been a year of realizations and planning as I ponder the next phase or stage of my life. It has been a year of wondering if there are other changes or things I might consider. Perhaps the most important thing realized within the year was sometimes there is no turning back. Sometimes things we wish might, or might not, have happened just are. Regret is a profound emotion because it is often accompanied by guilt and shame, and each of them affects us differently; they are not the same thing. One of the things most painful this past year was when my exchange student had to move and the ensuing fall out from that move. It was my actions that necessitated the change, though unintentional. Nonetheless, once certain wheels started turning, there was no reversing them. It was traumatic for his family, and it caused difficulties that I am not sure will ever be overcome. It was painful for all.

More often then we care to admit, we are make choices that result in difficulty, for both ourselves and others. What is more significant, however, is the consequence of the choice, the effect of that experience, or combined experiences. The resulting action, the long-term emotional or mental outcomes, can affect us for even a lifetime. There are many times I find myself responding to or stepping back from a situation because of something that happened years before. These moments can be both helpful or distressing. In spite of understanding and realizing the effect of my childhood to much more completely than earlier in life, I often wonder if I will ever fully be able to manage it. And will I know if that happens? Sometimes the loss, the consequence of life itself can overwhelm us and leave is despairing. As I write today, I have been grading for the entire day, and it is time for a break. As I write, I have listened to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, one of the most amazing vocal and orchestral groups I have ever listened to. To witness them in Salt Lake City is on my bucket list. The video at the end of this post is one of the things I have listened to while working today, and it gives me chills to consider it. Sometimes I am in awe of those around us who are able to face life-changing moments and step up and manage them with such grace and courage. As I began this blog, there was a part of me despairing, wondering, and trying to imagine what is next. There was a fear and a general lack of courage. There as a feeling of rejection and wondering why such a rejection or feeling of such enveloped me so quickly or easily? I am reminded of a former student who once noted that I have a melancholy side to me. It is true, and perhaps that is the most profound effect of my childhood. Perhaps it is my struggle to believe that I am worth having in this world. I know that in an of itself sounds pretty dismal, and I am not that downtrodden at the moment, but perhaps it is the feeling that there is no real place I feel I belong. Additionally, I must note that this is not really because of others, but because of my own frailty.

As I sit now and type I am in a courtyard of an old hotel that is no longer serving in that capacity, but it is an Air BnB. It is an incredible place with a touch of both simplicity and elegance. The garden area is beyond tranquil, and there is a set of steps up to a second floor where there is a small pool (fountain) and then a really quaint area that used to be a restaurant and is available to reserve and cook things. The area I am in is referred to at the Cathedral area, and it is very nice, but if you go even a couple of blocks, it can be very different.

During the past week, it would have been my sister’s birthday. I often wonder what she would have been like at this point in her life. It is stunning to believe that she will be gone almost 15 years ago, and likewise, it is a quarter of a century since our father passed away. This perhaps returns me to the title of this blog. Often, in spite of our best intentions, we fail to let those who matter know how important they are. Sometimes, it is because we do not take the time to think about it. Sometimes, it is because we focus on the difficulties rather than the gifts. I actually began to write this blog the day before her birthday, and I knew then the title was related to her. She and I struggled as we grew up because I did not understand her. What I did not understand was her sexual orientation. Today, I would even perhaps question her sexual identity, but I am not sure that was even a possibility when we were growing up. What I realized is she found most attempts to feminize her repulsive, or at least that is how I understand her now. As a brother only months older than her, I simply found her embarrassing, and as a consequence, I avoided her. What I realize how is how difficult that must have been. I also know that she was victimized more by our mother than the two males were. Perhaps our mother did not understand or appreciate her either. No wonder she tried to run away. As I ponder it now, it hurts me; it saddens me; and I wish she knew where I am now. But, 15 years later is a bit late. I have written about her a number of times, but as I think of her now there are two specific things that I would note about her. Her obituary noted that she was caring and compassionate, and that is certainly true. I think she cared for others because she did not receive that care growing up. She learned compassion because of the lack of compassion she experienced. The second thing that would characterize her was an incredible creativity. From writing to art, from her appreciation of what she observed in nature to her ability to replicate it, she was both talented and brilliant. Too many times those gifts were not cherished; they were not nourished as they should, or could, have been. Because of the time she was born, her sexuality began the thing that most people would focus on, and the world, which is still not accepting enough, was even less so then. I wonder what she would think of today’s world? She would certainly have opinions, that is for sure. I am hoping in my own piety it is not too late to tell her I am proud of the amazing person she was an in awe of her talent. She was a piano player; she had a strong singing voice, and she loved being a mother. I wonder if we had a chance to do something together, perhaps to travel or spend a week somewhere, what she would want to do. I think it would be rustic and simple, but she would prepare now. Earlier in her life she was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants person. She was as untidy as I was neat. She was willing to try anything once, where I was more cautious or probably fearful. I remember when we were in early elementary school she was my protector, even though she was younger. She had little fear of anything or anyone. That might have been why she was so difficult for our mother. She could be defiant in ways I could not even fathom.

If you come to visit me, I have two pictures of the two of us displayed. One is two small pictures side-by-side of our kindergarten graduations (I was a grade ahead of her). The second is of the two of us when we still lived at our grandparents. I am going to assume I was about 2 1/2 and she would have been a little older than 1. I think they were probably the first set of photographer pictures my grandparents had, and it was probably shortly after we had come to live with them. I sometimes wonder what it must have been for them to take on two toddlers, while they owned a business and my grandfather worked two jobs. Those are things I wish I knew more about. I remember seeing my grandfather at the Sioux City Stockyards. In fact, cattle were a significant part of both my initial family and my adopted family. I know that we had probably only been there a year and my grandfather would pass away from lung cancer. So now my grandmother had two little ones under the age of three and had a business to run, and she was in her early 40s and a widow. I have noted a lot about my grandmother in this blog, but I find myself wondering about my grandfather. I know a bit more about my grandmother’s side because she was a Hannestad, but I know very little about the Lynam name or its history. I have been trying to get more on the Hannestad side for a cousin, but I have not been as successful as I would like. Something else to work on when I have some free time. What I have found about Lynam is it is from English, so there is more of that UK to me than I often realize.

As I am moving into a last year, perhaps it is important to manage some things before it is too late. Sometimes it is nostalgia; sometimes it is curiosity; sometimes, it is simply important to ask the questions and find the answers. As I ponder all of it, I wonder why we are so content to let it pass by until it might be too late. And indeed, as well as not surprisingly, this song comes to mind.

Thank you as always for reading.

Dr. Martin

Published by thewritingprofessor55

I am a professor at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and the director of and Professional and Technical Writing minor, a 24 credit certificate for non-degree seeking people, and now a concentration in Professional Writing and Digital Rhetoric. We work closely to move students into a 4+1 Masters Program with Instructional Technology. I love my work and I am content with what life has handed me. I merely try to make a difference for others by what I share, write, or ponder through my words.

2 thoughts on “It’s too late to . . .

  1. Dr. Martin I must say I related to this post more than I can say, but in a peculiar way. Growing up I suffered abuse from my mom who at the time was an alcoholic. My dad was always away for work and it left me and my older sister who is also close in age to me to fend for ourselves. I can remember being four years old and being left home alone for hours with my sister who was five at the time. The first memory I have is from when I was in kindergarten and my mom showed up to take me home completely incoherent. After that things were never the same. She stayed with us throughout the years till I was 17 because I feel my dad was too afraid to be a single father. She has mentally and physically hurt both me and my sister and I took it upon myself to protect us both even though I was younger. I have gotten into multiple altercations with her that ended physically and it never seemed to effect me until recently. After I graduated high school she went to rehab and I did not speak to her for years. It wasn’t until recently that she reached out to me and apologized for her past. At first I wanted nothing to do with her. I’m in college, I have a new life and new people to surround myself with. However, there was a part of me that wondered about the kind of relationship we could have. I resonate with what you said about your sister being compassionate because no one ever showed her compassion. I feel that is somewhat of what happened to me. I have always thought my best quality is the way I care for people, and after all these years I have realized it is because I want to care for others the way I was never cared for. At last I have begun to speak with my mom. As I get older I don’t want to have any regrets. I know if I do not at least try to mend our relationship I will wonder for the rest of my life about what could have been. I believe it is never too late for forgiveness and I think no matter what family is family and your blog has definitely helped me come to this conclusion.

  2. Dr. Martin

    I can’t help but reread when you said “It has been a year of realizations and planning as I ponder the next phase or stage of my life. It has been a year of wondering if there are other changes or things I might consider” over and over. As a senior, I’m feeling the exact same way. I have no idea what to do once I graduate from college. There are so many options and opportunities in my life, and that it scares me. Will I make the right choice? Am I doing the right thing? My life as been structured since I was born. Go to elementary school, graduate from elementary school. Start high school, graduate high school. Go to college, graduate from college. Now, as they say, the world in my oyster. I can do whatever I want in my life now. Do I settle down and start my career or do I do what I love, and travel the world and explore places I’ve never even thought existed before? Realistically, I know it’s almost impossible just to do nothing and travel, but settling down doesn’t seem appeasing at this point in my life. Everyone around me seems to already have a plan on what they are doing after they graduate. It makes me feel like I’m behind. Hopefully I can take some time these next few months and figure out what I want to make out of my life.

    -Robert Peoples

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