Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
2 You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.
5 The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
6 May you see your children's children!
Peace be upon Israel!
Got a little story for you today, Ags (Texas A&M), so listen up.
I come from this family that is just funny. And for as long as I can remember, I've carried them in my heart with this tremendous joy and burden. I wondered in my early twenties that all this emotion wouldn't lead me to become an excellent writer. Some of this yearning comes from being an only child of, emotionally, only children. My parents bare the social burdens of being only children. But let me tell you, I had excellent Grandmothers because of it!
Well, my Grandmother used to talk and talk and talk about growing up a Wilson. She even told me Eric Clapton wrote a song about our area of the country. My grandmother was Excellent, she was Love to me. She sent me to college. I'm not the sharpest cookie in the box and I was Profoundly grateful for that time in my life. My life bloomed. I had attention from every part of my college - except my sorority - I just thought life was exceptionally fine.
Well, back to the family story. My great-grandfather came from a fine family, rumor has it we are descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence. Wow. That can make a body proud. I know we were related to Daniel Boone through his daughter Matilda. And one of our family cousins, with a particularly fine Mississippi accent (whom I've always had this unusually strong like for him - he has a real place in my heart - I am excessively fond of him for his family looks and his accent reminding so strongly of my Grandmother - which is funny cause he's not all that fond of her!!) , told me we married into Senator Daniel Boone's family because we are such Excellent people. Wow.
So great-grandfather, Pop, was a bank teller and he wasn't financially all that he had hoped for. And one day, to make a little money, he started an insurance agency. And during the Depression, that insurance company Paid Off. It made him a fortune. By cheating his neighbors. So he became very secretive of his fortune. The children, only 1 of them knew it, lived a very prosperous life. But miserliness is a sin, and Pop didn't emotionally take care of 2 of his children and didn't even help them to get good employment. Pleasing the 1 child, very well. He had learned secretive ways to the burden and joy of his children.
And all of this was a Huge Secret. Creepy. Creepy. Creepy. The local and state government elected officials knew of it (cousins). And they all banded together to conspire that the 1 child would get all the money honey. I hope they were happy, bastards, because - this is true - those horrid people who helped this nasty conspiracy - none of those people could have a child. Sort of makes you think God was looking at this in distaste!
So the next generation had 2 sons and 2 daughters. One favorite daughter, my precious Grandmother and one favorite son - who decided he was entitled emotionally because he was favored and had the most brains in the family. That uncle once unkindly referred to my GRANDMOTHER as being as stupid, as stupid, as one of those William Faulkner's heroines. That novel was given to me and I cannot remember the title of that damn book. For the time being.
(Now I am going to throw in an interesting aside and say William Faulkner was my grandmother's neighbor. He was a Complete alcoholic. Mr. Faulkner, for some reason, liked my grandparent's fine Antebellum home and their fishing pool my grandfather Poss built (short for Possum because there is some nasty story about that no one will tell me about) and used to routinely go into their backyard in the night and pass out. My grandmother would have to go out in her robe and wake him. Mr. Faulkner wasn't particularly nice and he never would even speak to my grandmother. Which was even more peculiar because my dad (Mr. Meet and Greet, Social Lion) was friends with Mr. Faulkner's step-children. Aka, my dad and Malcolm used to get past foxed and get plowed under together. Daddy dated Marianne and was invited to the Faulkner house parties or party.... And I know a particularly fine ghost story about Rowan Oak too.)
So out of the 8 second generation children with theirs spouses (my Grandmother being one of them) none of them were very happy (maybe sharp tongued, iron disciplined Margaret). They all abandoned each other for reasons they didn't fully understand. Chosen son had stolen just about every dime. Except my very cool Uncle Tate was happy. And he was Cool. He drove a Carmengia. He was a Priest and so, unfortunately, it was a Carmengia station wagon. But he did drive it like a bat out of hell and wave all over the road as he talked, and talked, and talked. He was fun. He got himself out of the family sadness and mess because Tate loved Jesus. And Jesus loves Tate. I just had shining eyed admiration for Tate because he could manipulate my dad with a word. Joy. Joy. Joy.
So... my family was poor and had times of prosperity. But that family sadness and desertion pulled in a bad way. Tate died. Daddy ran off with my mom's evil, evil friend. She helped destroy my dad, who was headed that direction any way. Sadness, sadness, sadness. How I loved my dad. Love him. Love him.
I've even had real dreams of him in Heaven. And Grandmother too. With meaningful conversations.
So I became someone who didn't have many friends at all because I was in such sadness over my dad. My dad chose to take his own life. It was his choice. And I am never going to go that path. But the despair. People despise, avoid, ridicule, avoid and ignore people who grieve. They don't want that mess in their lives.
My family became oddly reconnected and disconnected again over my Grandmother's death and my dad's death. Dear God. The pain we could have avoided if we'd just had a conversation instead of lingering grudges. And I would have been so nice to all of them. So... what do I mean about oddly reconnected and disconnected? I am going to take the High Road here and be honest and gracious and say.... there is more to it than I am going to say about that. Privacy is important.
Margaret decided to be lazy the day of my Grandmother's funeral. She didn't say to her son, it would be good if you could meet these people over the funeral. They'd appreciate it. Instead she was rather catty, it was probably guilt, but she served a cheap cake on paper plates and wanted us to see the graciousness of her home. She and Bob got into an argument over a family painting. So over this partial, hostile family reunion. Two things happened. I asked Bob, because we were poor and suffering, suffering, suffering, who owns all these vast stretches of property. And Bob got this amazing look on his face. Amazing. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Bob decided he might want to know me a bit better. I was thrilled. Hey. Family. Bob started to visit us from time to time. And we had a BLAST. Bob paid the bills. Yay.
2nd, Margaret must have liked us a bit better because we were now speaking a "Bit". Yay. Family. And.... nothing seemed to come of it. Damn. Then Margaret's 2nd son died. We were sad for her because now her only relative, living near by, was gone. We sent flowers. And I think we hoped we would reconnect again. Nothing came of it. Damn.
More despair. I began in earnest to establish who I was in the LORD. Which means I careened around like a drunken sailor trying to get my bearings. Prone to Wander. And let me be very clear here. A cousin once told me that I was a hep cat. All talk and no action. Let me repeat. No action. Yes I am being vague for a reason. I joined a Christian Bible Study where no one was truthful. It was a bad deal. I was the most honestish. Add up lost fortune. Poor moral directions. Loose talk. And ... trouble brewed up. And kept brewing up since 1995.
My family is fragmented over my dad's own choice to die. My brother has guilt. My mom has guilt she has no guilt because she is angry, but she is guilty.... on and on. My family at large has guilt. Geez people. He chose it. It's not your fault. My cousin AC reacted Really Strangely. My God. Get away - you never even really liked me. Ignored me for years even when our family was happy together. Twit.
One cousin is really sour. I do forgive you. But leave me to lead my own life.
So... in the middle of this incredible muddle - you have Edward. Edward is Smart. Stupid. Just like me. Edward and I grew up together. We are married. We are siblings - not in the literal word. We are geeks. We are goodish looking and have great taste. We have enough materialism to repel and attract people. We are rich in goods and poor, poor in cash with a business in financial difficulty surrounded by family trouble. We are copiously plentiful in good deeds and good prayers. Dear LORD, I want Edward to quit saying the Lord's name in vain to curse us. We are shining Christians with Big flaws.
Edward is the best friend who helped when we were living on nothing. We used to work at our terrible, terrible little jobs and come home to the 2 bedroom home that our family and friends ridiculed us for. Surrounded by lavish wealth, we got heaps of disdain. We felt worthless. Acted with no self esteem. It was a cute, cute, cute little house. In the evenings after slave work, slave cubical/no window, slave wages - we would sit on the floor and Edward only wanted Mrs. Baird's white bread and gallon of milk. We'd sit next to each other and guess what Star Trek episode it was. And laugh. Life was working pretty okay until the trouble in 1995. Cousins can be a real pain in the ass. Banished. Treated badly.
Moved to The Woodlands and everything was Fan-fricking- tastic. Good Church!!! Good Pastor - he was like the best friend we ever had. Really. Edward and I had lunch with Allen 5 days a week and saw him 3 nights a week. Allen liked Edward so much. Finally a Church where people loved each other and honored God. A real community. A real family with fights, prejudices, feuds, forgiveness. Parties, people. Work, reward. Friends, trips to the city............ I lost weight. I looked so good this astonishing stranger came up to me in the Art Museum and asked me how old I was. 40 something. He said no way. I really looked young for my age? Bounder. So appealing. He was very personable at the Museum and seemed to want to just talk. But it was very awkward.
I never forgot. Except I forgot and then remembered.
Ran into him again at Neiman Marcus. I was buying a blue topaz. It wasn't a clean stone. My friend next to me was so excited over this devastating man in a light colored (camel?) sports jacket, that if she'd been a bunny she would have hopped. The sales associate was jealous. This man was..... All That.... and very blatantly sexual. Nope. Can't do that. It didn't end graciously. Thanks sales associate. Thanks awkward me. This man and my friend became friends later. Well she said so. As she was so rude, rude, rude to me happily being rude and gossiping. It didn't help my reputation a bit over those jealousies and that s.h.i.t. hit the fan 2 weeks after my infant daughter died. Gossip over an innocent me. It hurt me for two years.
Temptation. Middle Age. Trouble. Damn Trouble. I hate it. So. It is what it is. Love. And indifference?
Then one day.... we slowly began to work our way back from child loss. And Edward made nice, nice Men friends. And I was lonely. I tagged along. I began to smile. And be happy. And later cry. And I met an unusually angry woman at two Baylor functions. So angry it made an impression.
And to our listening public. It was all talk. And smiles. And insults. Really. Edward was there.
How is it going to work out? Let me tell you. My part. I do love you. We are very similar and dissimilar. I love Edward. I do. He annoys me. But man, he is beginning to listen to me. I promised God I would take care of Edward. I am going to.
And. What will you decide? I don't know. But I do wish you would decide it in the following manner. No more fiber. And you know I am not taking about cabbage. I have a phone. If you are going to "be out of town" don't be talking about downtown.
Win. Lose. Draw. It will work out. I love the Lord. I think you do too in a casual manner. Do what is right. Decide what you think is right. Give me my privacy. Talk to me when you want to talk. Just be kind. I have been kind to you.
(This is Edward - You left your computer on this and I decided that since I am mentioned, I could say something to you. You are my best friend, my counselor, my person to lean on and complain to. I am proud of you for losing 18 pounds. I am proud of your goal to lose another 18 pounds because I know you can do it. You mean so much to me. ( I wonder how long it will take before she notices my comment).
(Hello Edward, honey. It took about 12 hours. Love you. A.L. )
The Lord, the Almighty bless us and watch over us. Guide us and Lead us. In Jesus' Holy name. Amen.