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I Remember You

It’s no secret that I miss my brother-in-law, Donnie.  I’ve blogged about it, talked about it, written about it, and I’ve got a memorial tattoo on my arm.  A Harley symbol with three sets of initials, celebrating the special connection between myself, Chuck, and him, completed with Avenged Sevenfold wings.  It’s painful to look at, but it helps.  After all, he was involved in 90% of what we did, from working on trucks and riding motorcycles, to 4th of July fireworks and throwing hay bales all summer long, not to mention those quiet summer nights standing in the doorway of the garage, beer in hand.  Winter was a time for ice hockey, snowboarding, and drinking whiskey by the woodstove.  (Well, I drank the whiskey, the boys drank beer.)  The point is, he was always there. 

Afterward, I couldn’t even look at his chair by the stove.  The thought of it remaining empty for the rest of time brought a crushing weight down on my chest, and made it hard to breathe.  The garage was a nightmare for me, and the sight of a motorcycle could never fail to bring on the tears.  It’s gotten easier, but it never goes completely away.  We’ve been moving on, doing our thing, but in the back of my mind, I know that we are minus a member of our three-man crew.

Last week, when I hauled Chuck’s truck to the pulls, I turned to him with a sad smile.  “You know what’s running through my mind right now?” I asked. 

“That day you hauled the baler home,” he said, the pain evident in his voice that broke a little, just a little.

“Yeah,” I said, “He woulda really enjoyed this.”

The pain is always there, although sometimes it’s recessed in the corners of my mind, waiting like a snake to strike out at me when I least expect it.  We started haying last night, and as I jumped on the tractor, sitting on the fender while my five-year-old drove us down to the field, I was drawn back to a day when Donnie stood on the fender, teaching me to shift the gears.  As I stood on the wagon, ready to stack the bales thrown to me, I was taken back to a day where I was going down to the field with him.  He was holding a beer as he drove the Ford tractor down the road.  When we got into the field, he handed me the beer, told me to finish it.  Afterwards, he taught me to stack a hay wagon.  He’s always there.

The other day, my five-year-old, Lucas, handed me a rock he had written on.  “It’s Donnie’s name,” he told me.  “I remember him.”  What an amazing thing to hear from my son. I remember him too.  I remember the way he touched my life, and apparently, my two boys’ lives.  I remember every little thing from the last eleven years.  I’m glad that my boys remember him, and I’m sad that CC won’t. 

Sometimes I think the pain will fade, little by little.  It hasn’t even been a year.  Other times, I know better; I know there will always be a piece of us missing.

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Posted by on July 2, 2011 in Life

 

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The Other Side of Woman

Lately, gender roles have really been on my mind.  It started a couple of semesters ago in Gender & Comm, but continued on throughout the next year or so, whenever I found myself stepping outside of society’s box.  I’m not your typical woman.  Yes, I’m a wife; yes, I’m a mom of three, and yes, I do laundry and dishes.  But I also work on trucks, and bale hay, and drink whiskey in straight shots. 

I don’t feel guilty about leaving my kids with a babysitter, I don’t berate myself for following my dreams, and I sure as hell don’t know why, in this day and age, that others do!  We’re so scripted even now in the 21st century.  Mothers MUST be happy with their children, otherwise, something’s wrong with them.  Teen girls MUST dress like sluts and have a boyfriend, otherwise, they’re shunned by their friends and criticized by their families, and God forbid if any woman is so much as a pound overweight!  I could go on all day and night about society’s view of women, but I won’t.  Suffice to say that enough women buy into this garbage to make it a problem.

And it’s a problem.  I look at my baby girl, and wonder what the hell society is going to do to her innocence in about five years.  I worry for her, and for all of the other little girls who are watching their moms struggling with weight, wrestling with the mascara wand, and buying into the garbage pushed at them by every well-meaning  (but unenlightened) person in their lives.  I worry for my daughter as society pushes harder and faster to make women believe that they must do it all; work, raise kids, be self-aware, all while looking like a goddess.  If they can’t, they’re out.

Don’t get me wrong.  I enjoy being a woman, hell, I even wear make-up most days.  But, I don’t enjoy feeling like I should not enjoy things that are “outside” the scope of being a woman.  I don’t enjoy being called a monster for voicing my opinion that Euripides was onto something with Medea’s character.  (If you’ve not read it, Medea is an amazing character who makes a widely unconventional choice.)  And I definitely don’t enjoy not being able to walk into a gas station without men leering, or hitting on me.  Seriously?  I’m only buying gas, guys! 

In a few weeks, truck pulling season will be upon us.  As I stand around with the guys, I’ll notice the dubious looks I get when I grab a hold on a 100lb weight, toss it to my husband, and grab the next one. I’ll get picked on for knowing the parts of the engine, and for telling some guy what’s wrong with his truck. Why?   Why is it so strange to see a woman enjoying hard labor?  Why is it unimaginable that a woman with children might know something about the way her car/truck works? Why is it weird for me to jump in the truck, slam the throttle to the floor, and enjoy the rush of power, just like the guys do?

Why can’t we all just be people?  Who gave anyone the right to tell us how to live?  What to wear?  How to wear it?  Women need to take charge, and show their daughters that they can be something else besides “woman.”  Think outside the box, and walk outside without your eyeliner one day.  You never know what you may see!

The other side of "woman"

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2011 in Life

 

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Dealing With It

I spent last night in the garage, with Chuck, a Honda shadow, sandpaper, and a couple of cans of spray primer.   As I scrubbed sandpaper across the front fender, which I had taken off,  I was reminded  of  other times in that garage when the smell of gasoline permeated the air, oil dripped off of my fingers, and Donnie’s laugh rang over the sound of 97.9x blaring from the stereo.   I have a bad temperment for mechanics.  I’m a little firecracker sometimes, and he always got a kick out of  listening to me bitch and curse after I’d spent 15 minutes wrestling with a bolt that wouldn’t budge, only to find out that I’d been turning the wrench the wrong way.  Whoops! 

I was always proud to work in the garage, alongside Chuck, and Donnie, with my father-in-law supervising.  I’ve learned so much from the three of them.  I think I could probably change a Chevy axle in my sleep, I dream about New Holland baler parts, and I know how to tighten a chain on a Harley Davidson, among other things that they’ve shown me over the last eleven years.  Everyone that ever saw me sitting inside of the hood of Chuck’s ’71 Chevy, baseball hat on backward, grease streaked down my nose,  would comment on how funny it was to watch me in there with the guys. With calendar girls, and racing tires on the wall, I’d slug Michelob Light, turn wrenches, and curse right along with them.   They never expected less, or treated me different just because I was a girl.  

Yesterday was a tough day for my family.  It would have been my brother-in-law’s 43rd birthday, and it was the first one that we had to deal with since his accident seven months ago.  As I sanded, stripping layers of paint away to reveal bare metal, I felt hollow.  I wondered if I’d ever find that pride again when I finished a job.  It got me thinking.  Do we ever really deal with death?  Or do we just cover up our feelings?  Was it an accident that we spent Donnie’s birthday in his garage, working on a motorcycle?  Or was it our way of celebrating a life that we desperately miss?  I really can’t say.

I can say that I’ll keep on working in the garage.  It makes me feel closer to him.  I’ll keep using the knowledge given to me by three wonderful guys, and maybe I’ll be proud of it again.  I’ll keep writing about it.  It’s always fun to surprise a professor with a poem about changing wheel bearings, or changing oil 🙂 Maybe that’s how we deal with death.  Maybe we use it, work with it, instead of against it.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2011 in Life

 

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