I enjoyed reading Alexandra Kuydendall’s memoir, The Artist’s Daughter. In the first few chapters, Alexandra tells us what it was like to meet her father for the first time when she was eight years old. Some of her thoughts or memories of that time seem to be what an older child would perceive. But as she shifts away from that first meeting her voice and memories seem to be more age appropriate.
Alexandra takes us on a journey of her life including shortcomings caused by her need for love and acceptance. Desiring approval; she becomes a perfectionist. Her perfectionism affects her relationship with her husband and others.
As a new mother, she struggles to connect to her newborn daughter. She feels inadequate and lonely. She prays for friends and finds them with her involvement in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers.). Along with new friends comes a greater acceptance of her role as wife and mother. Eventually, she struggle with a desire to return to work. But to do so means she will no longer fit into her perceived ideal mother role. She comes to the conclusion that there are different ways of mothering and that none of us are perfect.
We also see her struggle to trust her husband to parent their daughters. She reaches the understanding that it is important to allow him to parent differently than she does releasing him from her expectations of what a perfect father should be.
She is learning that she is loved in spite of the neglect she felt from her father. She doesn’t have to prove her worth.
The Artist’s Daughter is a journey of personal and spiritual growth. It come full circle at the death of Alexandra’s father. Finally, she realizes she is worthy of recognition as his daughter regardless of the way she was treated.
I reworked an old blog entry and submitted it to the Past Loves Story Contest. I was pleased when they told me I was one of seven honorable mention entries out of close to two hundred submissions.
December 6, 2012 marks five years since he left us. I hope to write more later, but I wanted to share this piece with you again.
The Arithmetic of Love
“In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything, and two minus one equals nothing.” –Mignon McLaughlin
Our eyes lock together and I feel the heat of your love warming me on
this cold fall day. At least I imagine this is so. Imagination is the
only tool I have to bring you close to me again.
I imagined I saw you this morning at church. You shook everyone’s
hand in greeting, smiled your crooked smile, and handed them a bulletin.
You were wearing your gray suit, red print tie, and the baby feet lapel
pin to show others you stood against abortion.
Then I imagined you beside me singing hymns, your voice clear and
strong. During the message you opened your black leather bound King
James Bible with its grey duct-taped edges. I saw you nodding your head
in agreement with a point in the message. You even said, “Amen” a couple
of times. I nudged you with my leg once to wake you up.
After church, you milled around talking to the other men. When it was
time to go, our eyes met across the room in silent communication, and
we both made our way to the door.
Later in the afternoon, I pictured you at my mom’s house. I heard you
ask, “Are you going to have a cup of coffee?” You wanted her to have
one so she would offer you a cup too. I saw you slouching on her sofa,
your legs stretched out as you worked the crossword puzzle she saved for
you from her newspaper. After awhile, you sprawled out on the carpet in
her living room and took a nap.
I stopped at the cemetery today. But I didn’t see you there. I saw a
block of marble with our names and some dates. I walked across blades of
grass covering the soil that covers the concrete vault that holds the
body you left behind. Fourteen years your dementia haunted us, and if
that wasn’t insult enough, Lou Gehrig’s disease eventually consumed your
muscles and took you from us.
I didn’t feel you there in the soil, in the grass, in the air, in the
block of marble. But when I slid into the driver’s seat, I felt you
again. I felt you riding next to me asking, “Are we going to move down
here? I can get a job here.” As usual, I tried to ignore your question,
because it has been years since you were able to hold down a job. You
didn’t seem to expect an answer anyway as you snapped picture after
picture of trees along the roadside.
I felt you walking beside me in the sunshine and cool breeze this
afternoon. I had a hard time keeping pace with your long stride. You
reached out and clasped my hand. I didn’t pull mine away this time. I
stopped caring if people see us. Public displays of affection don’t
bother me like they used to.
I saw you yesterday in the faces of our children and grandchildren.
And as I gazed at their faces, I imagined you were there with us. I saw
you smile. I saw you laugh. I saw you get excited during a game of
Pictionary. I saw you laughing until tears streamed down your face.
Tonight as I climb into bed, I will try to imagine I can feel you
roll over from your left side onto your back. You will slide your right
arm around me and I will cradle my head on your shoulder, my right arm
resting across your chest, my right leg on your thigh, our feet rubbing
together as we snuggle and talk about our children and grandchildren,
our church, our mothers, and the world that is spiraling out of control,
and the faith we have in God, who knit our hearts together thirty-six
years ago. You are so entwined around my heart; I can’t break free even
now, four and a half years later.
Thank you for the memories, dear.
June 1, 2007
So much has happened and changed in five years!
If you want to read other entries in the 2012 Our Past Loves contest go here. I appreciate Kate and Leon giving me the opportunity to participate in the contest.
Even my Christmas tree is part retro/vintage. The kids strung the popcorn about eight years ago. I store it in plastic buckets and have never had a problem with bugs. It smells like play dough when you first open the bucket each year. We lost a few pieces last year when our dog decided he wanted a snack.
I like the old style string lights with the C7 bulbs. I love to turn all the lights off at night and just look at the Christmas lights. It's fun to look at them with a pair of holiday specs from here http://www.holidayspecs.com/. Now on to some of the ornaments.
My family had some of these when I was growing up. The pinwheel in the center spins continually when placed over a warm bulb.
I've been picking up some vintage Shiny Brite ornaments at garage sales and off of eBay. Just like the ornaments we had on our tree as children.
Cross-stitch ornaments from my friend Sue.
I think I picked this up at an estate sale. Kind of large for the tree, but I always find someplace to hang it in the house.
Yes, I know Jesus is no longer in the manger. He is risen! As He said!
Found this set a year ago at a resale shop. We had one just like it as children. They are keeping my writing books company.
It’s 1937 and eight year old Lucy wants a pony for Christmas. A very special pony.
Their neighbor Mr. Greenburg has a sign out in front of his property, “Pony for Sale or Trade.” Smoky is a pony any child would delight in. Whenever Lucy walks by on her way to town, she stops to visit with Smoky.
Lucy’s mother says they can’t afford a pony. She told Lucy it’s been hard enough just keeping food on the table for their little family. They couldn’t possibly afford to feed a pony too.
Lucy decided not to talk to her mom about Smoky anymore, but each night she prays quietly for a pony, for food to feed him, for boarders in their house, and for her mother’s smile to return. Lucy thinks her mother used to have the sweetest smile, but it faded away to almost nothing three years ago when Lucy's father died.
In fact, if she had to make a choice, having her mother smile again would mean more to her than getting a pony for Christmas.
This is the first book I’ve read by author Melody Carlson. I
was delighted with The Christmas Pony.
Available Sept 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I received a free copy of The Christmas Pony from Revell Baker Publishing.
Revising memoir pieces and learning to write essays.
Forcing myself out of my comfort zone to interview people starting with my mom and two aunts for family history.
Where do I go from here?
The terms courage and compassion keep echoing in my ears.
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
I want to help others see that courage and compassion will make a difference in their lives and their ministry.
I want to minister to those dealing with frontotemporal
dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and their caregivers.
I think I would enjoy interviewing people as a personal historian, especially the elderly, and then putting together a memoir book for their families. I believe every person's story is important, especially for their family.
I love remodeling houses, but I can't see other people wanting me to remodel their houses.
I love reading, but I really don't enjoy writing book reviews.
I'm a behind the scenes type of person/worker/servant. I don't like being the center of attention.
Past interests - sewing, quilting, knitting.
I need some input from you!
What do you think my passion and purpose are? In life? For my writing? I know I'm still a beginner and have much to learn.
What does the blog title Pausing to consider - it takes courage mean to you?
If I concentrate on helping other people tell their stories through personal historian work, would Pausing to Consider as a title work? Then the sub could be an extension...it takes courage to tell your story? Or is too long? Or too confusing? Do you have a title you like better?
Am I missing something? A clue to the path I need to follow?
Please email or leave a comment here on the blog. Anonymous comments are okay too.
From the back cover – “Greater will give you the confidence
to know that nothing is impossible with God, the clarity to see the next step
He’s calling you to take, and the courage to do anything He tells you to do.”
“Only God can send the rain. But He expects you to dig the
ditches.” P. 66
“God doesn’t do
greater things exclusively through great people. He does them through anyone
who is willing to trust Him in greater ways.” P. 21
I had never heard of Steven Furtick before reading Greater. Nor had I heard of the church he pastors. Elevation Church has six locations with ten thousand
in regular attendance.
Greater is encouraging and inspiring. Steven takes us through the life of Elisha and shares biblical principles to live by. He believes it isn't what we can do for God, but what God can do through us.
He doesn't present himself as someone who has arrived. He recognizes his talents are God given gifts. I found him to be honest and open. His writing style is