Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Set the Record Straight”

A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, December 9, 2020

It’s amazing what might pop up when you connect with someone deep in conversation like I did last evening with Lily, my Canadian BFF, literary since she is my longest friend from early grammar school. You know how it goes. You start with the usual pleasantries, how are you, what have you been up to, then WHAM you go deeper in for the meaningful exchanges. We covered a lot of ground in our 3-hour chat. I love our banters. Our conversation inspired me with a new career idea for her to consider and a couple of story ideas for me to ponder. Just those two tidbits alone were worth the long call.

In sharing with her, I remembered a couple of old unresolved topics that didn’t sit well with me in the past, but at the time, there was nothing that I could do about them. What was done was done. End of story. Was it, though? I don’t think so, since it was one of those things that stuck with me. You know what I mean? I know I’m not alone. I know that normal people would let it go unresolved. I’m not normal people. I don’t like unresolved issues, either. Those normal people I mentioned would harbor bad feelings forever if that’s what it takes, but they wouldn’t do anything about it. For me, I rather resolve the issues, if possible.

One of those unresolved issues I mentioned is this old story stemming from the days I was living at home with my parents and my seven-year younger sister, Susie. Susie was my BFF at the time. We were inseparable when we weren’t with our respective friends. Every Saturday morning, we would clean the house together. I can’t say that it was our idea because Susie, being the younger teen, of course, would instead do anything but clean house. It was my parents’ house, but being the neat freak, I wanted a clean house, and I made it so.

I tried everything I could think of to make it more appealing to Susie since she didn’t share my joy of cleaning. One day, I had an epiphany. 

I didn’t push or force the idea on her. I said, “What do you think about this? I’ll clean the whole house if you clean the toilet, then you are free to do whatever you want.” 

Since I despised cleaning the toilet, and she didn’t enjoy cleaning, this offer was a win-win that worked for her, and she sealed it with, “Deal!” Alternatively, we split the chores 50/50.

Little did I suspect that somehow, she forgot our deal, and the story that ended up circulating in the grapevines was that I was a bully who used to force my little sister to clean the toilet. Ouch! 

It’s funny how people willingly listen to gossip but rarely does anybody go to the source to verify what they heard. Sad. For years, I was the victim of this and probably many other one-sided stories that went around but avoided circling back to me. One day, this story did slap me in the face. It suddenly made sense why people looked at me funny when I visited the family in San Diego. No words. Just stares that made me think, “What? What did I do?” 

I wish someone could have brought up the subject so that I could have a voice in setting the record straight. It’s a tough one because I believe people are good, and they meant me no harm. They were told something, but what could they do about it? Especially a silly story like this one that was harmless to anybody else except my reputation and ego. I don’t ding anybody for this—not even Susie. I don’t think she intended it to go south. I think she merely remembered wrong. 

The other scene that troubled me didn’t have to do with me. It impacted my late husband, Mark. When it happened, I was devastated, and I felt so bad for Mark, but at that time, it caught me off guard, and under the circumstances, I was helpless to do anything about it. 

 It was on the day of Mark’s Celebration of Life gathering when our nephew, Brian, shared memories of his Uncle Markie. Brian shared some heartwarming words and memories. However, one memory grabbed me because it was from the point of view of a hurt little darling boy. I felt for him. I really did. I get where he came from. My only wish was that he could have come to me beforehand, and I could have set the record straight before he shared his story with the 200 plus people in attendance.

Still, I felt so bad for Mark, who was gone and not there to share his side. I see clearly now, and I realized last night that I am still alive and kickin’, and I have a voice. If Mark can’t speak for himself, then I will speak for him.

Here’s what happened. When my older sister Menie’s kids were little, Mark and I visited with them in San Diego every summer. Once upon a time, on a particular visit when Prince Brian was four years old, Mark and I arrived in the heat of a power struggle between the queen mommy and prince baby boy over apple juice. Yes, you read that correctly. Prince Brian, apparently, just recovered from a nasty bout of diarrhea after chucking down a gallon of his new-found vice—apple juice. As a tot, he didn’t understand the consequences of his overindulgence.

Upon our arrival, Queen Menie appointed Mark as the guard over the apple juice. Queen Menie instructed that Prince Brian was to have—not a drop of apple juice—was her specific instructions. Guard Mark performed his duties like a pro, even if it meant he was the bad guy since it was for the Prince’s own good. Every day and everywhere we went, the game was afoot between the two, which heated up to the finale that resonated in Prince Brian’s memory for the decades to come until the fateful Celebration of Life service.

Prince Brian, “I hate you!”

Guard Mark, “Not a drop!” 

And on and on they went. We, adults, knew the story, but not until Brian shared his point of view at the service did I realize the impact our actions had on that poor little boy. After the service, I told him the back story. Now he knows that his uncle wasn’t trying to purposely be nasty by forbidding the little kid his apple juice.

I know that Mark, especially in spirit, didn’t mind. That’s who he was. He never cared what people thought of him, but I’m hypersensitive, and whether I like it or not, I do care. For that reason, I’m so glad that I’m here to set the record straight.

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