Things are getting more and more eccentric at Casa de la Swain. Changing styles in my textile work, falling in love again with painting and photography...and then there is the ever illusive quest for continuing creativity through working with Eric Maisel. Still on the road teaching, posting now at the Ragged Cloth Cafe and taking the pledge to keep handmaiden up to date.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Class of '67 and 17 is 58

The year I graduated from high school is long ago and far away. We were told we were among the youngest, best and brightest. Many of us prepared to go off to university. For me, who had just gotten married to the husband "lovingly" referred to as the revolving door, images of being free from parental control loomed large. Having gotten married to get away from my mother, dreams of domestic bliss danced through my head. 1967 was a good year.

A brief re-cap will tell you why I thought my future was bright. My last year in high school was peppered with cheer leading, editing the annual, being a contestant in the Miss Texas pageant, traveling to the Nation Honor Society convention....sorry I was really a different person. My sons always moan with agony at my apparent goody two-shoes past.

Little did we, my fellow students and I, know that all that was about to change. The Vietnam War escalated to unheard of proportions. The summer of love and Woodstock weren't even on the radar. My university attendance started in 1968 after the birth of my beautiful son Charles "Coyote". His birth and attending university had a major impact on who I was going to be when I grew up. In late 1967, first husband and I purchased a home with acreage.....with the help of my parents. By 1969, we were divorced, not amicably and I was on the way to graduating as a dyed in the wool hippy chick. How things had changed!

Okay, things changed but they were for the better. I attended my 10th reunion...everyone was still young and vital. I also attended my 30th reunion. We were older, established, had only lost one classmate. I didn't discuss who I was, why I had changed with anyone at my 10th reunion. Being with my class I became what they remembered. Not hard and made for a fun time. At the 30th reunion, I talked about my career as a quiltmaker. They honored me with the person who had the most unusual career and who had changed the least since high school. This caused me to pause. I knew just how much I had changed but to them I was still 17. Granted, it kinda felt good...but was scary in another way.

Why do I mention this? We were a class of 33 students. You read that right...I grew up in a town with the population of 600. Everyone knew everyone. You couldn't get away with the smallest infraction. Many times my escapades reached my mother's ear before I returned from the experience. With consideration, it was a good place to grow up if not slightly stifling. Now you understand my attempt to be the "good daughter." Being an only child plays a major role in this attempt. During the late 60's and for the rest of my mother's life, she never felt the joys of having a good daughter again. While my classmates might think that I was still the same; my mother knew better.

To the point of the story, when you only have 33 classmates, the loss of every one is a reckoning about your own mortality. The past few years has brought the loss of three more of us. From 17 to 58 has been a great ride. I often wonder what the next bend in the road will be. Even though my path has made me very different from that girl of 17, I must honor who she was and how far we have traveled from that time.

Since I cannot see into the future, I will gladly continue to wait for the road to reveal itself to me. However, I can't help but remember the faces of my graduating class with incredible fondness. Some of us set out to change the world and almost succeeded. Some of gave up;some of us are still trying. My gratitude to all of you for sharing part of your lives with me.

Post Script: Lest you think I had an awful childhood, I have to confess that my early years were idyllic. So the good daughter was an attempt to re-pay my parents for all they had done for me. My Dad was the greatest and always tried to protecting me from my Mom's crazy fears. The major of those fears was I would grow up. Now I see my Mom was a very fragile Blanche Du Bois. I was her "only chick," her words, not mine. Living with my parents was similar to growing up with Lucy and Ricky Ricardo....those of you old enough know what I mean. They were funny, fought and loved me beyond all measure. I give you one story to prove the facts.

My father hated food mixed together. You know what that means. His meat and vegetables had to have separate stations on his plate. One evening my mother, knowing my father's pre-disposition, prepared a casserole. I am in the background speculating..."OMG, Mom. Dad is going to go into apoplexy. What are you thinking...maybe you aren't. How many drinks have your had...This is bad...really bad. I am going to my room and hiding in the closet...This is going to be one for the record." Being curious, I peak around the wall...Dad comes in and announces...."Dinner smells good...What is it." He goes to the oven, opens the door, wheels on his boots to the reply, "Helen, you know I don't like this several expletives removed. Without missing a beat, my mom calmly picks up her pot holders, removed the offending, evil casserole, goes to the back door, opens it and flings the mis-aligned food into the yard, dish and all. With great aplomb, she returns to the kitchen, "That was your dinner." Being the All-American male, my Dad picks up his hat and drives to the local greasy spoon for his dinner. I don't remember what we had to eat that night, but I will always remember how gracefully Mom was while pulling this stunt.

While I am not a person to throw things, I must admit Mom pulled this one off with great flare. The casserole dish was still in the backyard the day she died. Never one to hold grudges...right?

1 comment:

Karoda said...

lol, your parents sound a lot like mother is 78 and my father is 71 and they still communicate in a very dramatic fashion which has only gotten more hilarious (to those of us viewing) as they age. My father now hates all things poultry (most of his life he loved) and guess what my mother buys a lot of?