Posts Tagged ‘following’

I had another realization tonight. I’ve known for a while that many things that have happened to me in my life–choices I’ve made, relationships, key decisions–have mirrored those in my mother’s life. I spoke about that in my eulogy, about how all women eventually become their mothers. But what I’d failed to realize is how things would turn out if I decided to consciously follow in her footsteps.

I can’t follow them exactly, of course. I didn’t skip grades in school (in fact, it took me waaaaay too long to finish, but I went further than she did). I’m not a programmer, though I do work in the tech industry. I prefer to read books of substance, not trashy romance novels. I hate dogs. I will never have a dog. Ever.

Anyway, you get the idea.

Tonight, I went to a meeting of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I knew mom belonged, and I knew her mom belonged, but I didn’t think either was very active. I do remember going to a DAR conference with mom when I was a kid. I think it was in Atlanta. I don’t remember much but a sea of gray-haired old ladies. I figured that’s what DAR was going to be: a bunch of old ladies. Not that I have anything against old ladies. Much to the contrary! I’m also a member of the Order of the Eastern Star, and those old(er) OES ladies I met in West Virginia were some of the kindest people I’ve ever met, and I’ll always care for them, and them for me. I’m still getting to know the ones here at my OES chapter in NC, but I’ve found them all to be very nice as well. It’s just that I’m 32, and I don’t know how many old-lady organizations I can belong to right now.

I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the women at this DAR chapter are my age, slightly younger, or slightly older. Most are working women or stay-at-home moms. One woman I sat next to had three piercings per ear and tattoos on her inner wrists, and we bonded immediately, of course. This is not my mom’s DAR. And they’re all very active in charity and community work, all centered around the DAR’s mission, which is to support American patriots, past and present. It was really cool. I’m looking forward to getting to know the ladies and getting more involved.

I had to stand up, along with the other newcomers, to introduce myself. I prepared by making a mental bullet-list of the highlights: separated and extremely excited to be starting my divorce process on Monday (everyone cheered), RPCV Lesotho, MA in PWE from WVU, editor at a well-known software company.

Then a very rare realization: I am awesome.

I’m an awesome person. I’ve done a lot of awesome things. I have a decent list of accomplishments. I think I’m a good person. I try to be kind, even though I often fail. I try to be generous and loving and giving. Even though I’m not always there for my friends, my friends are always there for me. That has to mean something. (Maybe that I’m a bad friend?!)

I should back up for a minute here. This is my first day back from vacation. I went out to CO for the wedding of a good Peace Corps buddy. The other RPCVs who were there weren’t ever close friends of mine, though we knew each other and got along just fine, but we all share a common thread that makes us family. I met a guy who was two weeks back from a long stint with US AID in Afghanistan. I had drinks with people who distributed malaria nets in Sudan (including the groom). I met nurses and non-profit workers. Almost everyone there was doing something that mattered. It made me feel a bit like a slacker because I’ve let my non-profit ball drop, but I think it’s about time to pick that up again.

Anyway, that experience–reconnecting with people who are LIVING and not just existing–reminded me of things that used to matter to me. Those things got lost in this past year of stress and grief and loss and, like my (occasionally) trusty GPS, recalculating.

If I can remember that I’m awesome, that I can do awesome things and make a difference in the world during the few years that I am blessed with the gift of existence (because, let’s face it, I’ll count myself very lucky if my life isn’t half over at this point–mom’s was at 32)…if I can remember all of that and get myself back to walking the trail mom blazed for me…well, that would be a good thing, I think.

Relevant post script: The whole time I was with the boy, he kept telling me that he wasn’t the right person for me. I can say a lot about him, but one thing I can’t say is that he ever lied to me about anything important. He was right about most things, actually. He called me magical, special, “why do you have to be so perfect?” And he said he wasn’t the right person for me. I should have listened to all of that. Because it’s true.


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