Several conversations that I have been involved in lately have started me to think on some different things. I was telling my sister Teresa how her daughter Rachel had commented on one of my blog posts and had said she loved hearing about our childhood and I should include more of these stories in my blogging. Well, Rachel, your comment was both sweet and disturbing, all at the same time. Sweet for all the obvious reasons… Disturbing because I use to love hearing my grand mother talk about her childhood!!!!
As Teresa and I began to talk, though, I also began to think on how two people may experience the same thing, but both may walk away telling two totally different stories, based on their perspective and how they viewed it. We all develop our opinions and thoughts on others based on what we see or hear. By going on what we see and hear we may be totally misreading someone. If we knew why they really reacted certain ways or appeared certain ways, what really was behind “who” they are, we might be surprised.
I began to think about how very few things are just "cut and dry", there is usually more to the story of peoples lives...who they really are... why they react certain ways or appear certain ways...All the things we can't see or are not aware of may be the key elements in why a person is the way they are.
The following is one such incidence, in my own life, that I feel as if others may have came to a different conclusion about me than the one I intended or thought I was giving. I have overheard comments, not meant for my ears, of others remarking on my appearance and how I felt as if I had to have every hair in place.
I have always tried to look “decent” when leaving my house and going out in public. Even if I was just "running" to the store to pick up that one ingredient needed to finish dinner. I know people have thought my need to have my make up on, and hair fixed, before leaving the house, was due to my being vain. I guess in a way that is true, but if you knew my heart and if you knew the experiences in my life that have brought me to the place of needing my appearance to be a certain way, you might view me a little differently. I am saying all of this out of a great desire to not be judgmental of others. I want to view and love others with a pure heart. I truly believe that we are a total package of the circumstances and experiences that we have experienced in this life.
I have the desire to be a better person, especially in the way I see and view others. God made us all. He does not love me one ounce more or less than He loves someone else. I may dissappoint Him more, but He loves us all the same. "For God So Loved The World...." Wow, it's mind blowing!!! And then to think that I may look at someone and have a not so nice thought enter my head like "who do they think they are?" If I truly knew "who they are" I might never had had that ugly thought to begin with.
I remember the exact moment as a child that I became aware of my looks. The moment I realized that the way the world treats you is directly related to the way you visually appear to them.
I had developed Rheumatic Fever as an eight year old child. I remember my Mom taking me to one doctor after another trying to convince them that was what was wrong with me. Mom had had Rheumatic Fever, herself, twice. Finally, she found a pediatrician who listened and ran the tests. I remember the night they called and said I needed to be admitted into the hospital. I was admitted that night. It was before Thanksgiving of my second grade school year. I spent close to three months in the hospital and then was bed fast at home for an extended period of time after that. The medicine I was on, it may have been steroids, I don't know, just a thought. Anyway, the medicine caused me to gain a lot of weight. I went from 60 something pounds to over 130 in just a few months. The medication caused my appetite to go through the roof!!! Most of my childhood memories begin during this time. I have very few memories before the Rheumatic Fever. As an eight year old little girl, I spent hour after hour, day after day, lying in a bed, alone, in a private hospital room. This is where my memories of being so lonely began. To this day, I believe loneliness is one of the worst feelings in the world. It breaks my heart to think of someone being lonely.
My family had moved to California when I was six years old. My Mom & Dad had worked in the hosiery mills in Harriman and had both been laid off. My Uncle owned a fire sprinkler business in CA. We moved there for my Dad to begin the apprenticeship program, and eventually become a certified sprinkler fitter. My Uncle, Aunt, and there three kids, were our only family there in California. So there were not a lot of options as far as visitors went!!!!
I remember being so excited to get a day pass to leave the hospital on Christmas Day. I still remember the presents that awaited me when I got home that morning, a brand new bike and a pair of roller skates where two of the main ones. I remember pushing my bike around the dining room table at the urging of those around. That’s so funny to me now!!! The thought of this bushy headed, chubby girl, in pajamas, grinning to please those who were watching and waiting, pushing her brand new bike around the dining room table while everyone watched, as if this brought some sense of joy to my little girl heart!!! It would have been as much fun to have laid down and let Teresa ride her brand new bike over me!!!! Too funny!!! I was also denied the opportunity to try out my new roller skates latter that day with the sisters and cousins. I did however decline the opportunity to try them on. I could imagine it now…this bushy headed, chubby girl, in pajamas, sitting in a chair, sweating from the process of lacing up those never ending shoe laces that accompany roller skates, grinning for those watching and waiting, as my legs dangle off the chair, feet adorned in brand spanking new roller skates that are forbidden to touch the floor with my feet in them!!! Too Funny!!!
Anyway…. I was eventually discharged from the hospital, sent home and eventually was able to return to school….
I remember being so excited to finally get to go back to school. My Mom had bought me a new dress to wear. I think I thought wearing a dress made you pretty. I went back to school only to be a little disappointed that no one seemed to remember me or care that I was back. I left school that evening and started the walk home only to realize B. H. , the boy who I had spent every recess with, from the time I started school there until I went in the hospital, was walking behind me. The boy next door was walking his bike talking to B. H. I remember being so happy thinking he would see me!!! I remember feeling those butterflies in the pit of my stomach just knowing he was behind me!!! When the neighbor boy and I had to turn down a street and B.H. continued on.... the boy next door caught up with me and was laughing as he told me B.H. had asked him who the new ugly fat girl was. I was heartbroken. That was the day I knew it took more than wearing a dress to be pretty. From that day forward until finishing middle school, I was the "fat girl". I was teased and tormented at recess. From that moment on I just wanted to do everything I could to blend in, to be invisible, to fit in. As long as no one noticed me I wouldn't be teased or judged. I guess that just carried over into my adult years too. As long as I had my hair fixed and my makeup on I just kind of blended in and wouldn't be noticed. If no one noticed I was there, I wouldn’t be teased or humiliated. So, you see, even though I may have been viewed as vain with my appearance, in my mind I just want to blend in!!! This is just one personal example that comes to my mind when I began to think of how we could possibly have a very wrong opinion of someone based solely on what we see or hear. I want to use this realization in my life to try desperately to be less judgmental of others. I can’t say that cancer has really changed the way I see or view things or has changed the way I want to live and view my life but it has made me want to get on with it…not waste anymore time in striving to be a better person…a better friend…a better family member…a better child of God. I want to not make hasty rude judgments, but I want to always take the time to look deep enough to see who is really there. It’s kind of mind numbing when I think of all the people and opportunities I have surely missed in this life by seeing only what I saw, not looking deep enough to see who is really there.