Life in the Slow Lane

Contemplating life, faith, words, and memories

A Day in the Life | Marriage Proposals and Engagements (Episode #5) — August 20, 2015

A Day in the Life | Marriage Proposals and Engagements (Episode #5)

On Saturday, August 15th, Bob and I celebrated 34 years of happiness together. Not to detract from that happiness but to share with you what a tough start we had, today’s “A Day in the Life” post includes an excerpt from my memoir work-in-progress. Detailing the tension and strife filling the days following Bob’s marriage proposal and our announcement of our intentions, the excerpt shares a window into the world with Mama. Even after her children reached adulthood.

Remarried, but with a Struggle

Living with Mama following my divorce and dad’s death went on far too long. Yet I struggled with finding a way out. If I moved out, the cost of housing, food, gas, clothing me for work and a growing child would lead to insolvency on my part. And worse yet, mere thoughts of Mama’s reaction to such suggestion was unbearable. She had grown attached to Craig and his presence had avoided her grieving for Daddy. I stood between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

For the next 7 1/2 years, we lived like this. With each passing year, I dreaded what our environment was doing to Craig knowing what my experience under Mama’s parenting did to me. I dreamed and prayed for any chance to get my child out of this. But would it be too late by then?

In the winter of 1981, I met someone. Someone with the capacity to love me for me, with similar interests, and as alone as I was. Plus someone familiar with emotional and verbal abuses.

Our new-found relationship grew like a flash. Within a period of a few months, we set a wedding date in December of the same year. With little consideration for our three children, we focused on our dreams and hopes. We moved ahead full blast with our plans.

That is until we told Mama. And from her tool belt of antics, she pulled the “I’ll kill myself routine,” as mentioned earlier. But not in front of my fiancé or his children. She waited until Bob and his two left.

This was likely one of the worst of these episodes I had experienced. So eerily different, I turned to my older brother for help. I asked him to come and try to reason with Mama. That added to her battle cries. When he arrived, her venom turned on him.

Once she calmed down on this otherwise tranquil and beautiful Sunday afternoon, my brother left. We three who remained behind walked on eggshells afterwards. For days, this mood continued. I was so glad that for part of the day Craig was in school. However, there was the time when Mama picked him up from school. What poison was she filling his head with, and how was she treating him?

Things became more even on a day-to-day basis, and I believed it was all behind us. What made me fall for the idea she had accepted my engagement and impending marriage in the next few months?

Summer came and Bob and I enjoyed getting out with the three kids, doing things like a “family.” But excluding Mama always brought on heated discussions. So we avoided those activities and held picnics and played games in the backyard. Anything to prevent clashes in front of our kids.

In early August, all hell broke loose with Mama. I struggle to recall the catalyst behind this explosion, but it may have been the weekend Bob and I announced a shopping trip for our wedding rings. Our plan included making Craig a part of our shopping as he would live with us. Before we could get the words out of our collective mouths, Mama stood at the door, handbag at the ready, joining us on our trip. Perhaps the silence surrounding our excursion or the quiet tears rolling down my cheeks lit the spark.

With our shopping finished and the trip home no more jovial than our trip out, we arrived back at the house just in time for our evening meal. Bob excused himself to go home, and I followed him out. I had hoped he would stay, and I suppose in my heart I wondered why he wouldn’t stand up to Mama for me. That’s when I learned he had experienced similar treatment before and never wanted to face it again. I wasn’t angry as much as hurt, so I let it pass.

When I re-entered the house, the fireworks began. One look at Mama and I knew at once what was coming. The fire in her eyes blazed with heat, and I tried to steel myself for whatever manipulative schemes she had ready.

“I suppose I made a mistake in thinking I would be included as family by you and Bob. A nice little nest you’re building for yourself. He sees you as the perfect wife and a great little homemaker and mama. Huh! Wait until he lives with you!”

As always, trying to ignore her didn’t work. When I made no response, Mama’s thermostat rose. When I noticed Craig’s eyes enlarging by the minute, I asked her to stop it once and for all. Mistake!

“Stop what? Not believing in you the way everybody else does? Nobody else knows you the way I do! Oh, how I wish they did. Your daddy always deemed you as perfect too. That’s where you get that high and mighty attitude of yours. But I know all too well.”

The fight in me crumbles. Tears burn the backs of my eyes, and I sense Craig’s fear. The tension between Mama and me is so great I clench my teeth together to hold words back. And my teeth grind against each other.

“Well, say something. Or has the cat got your tongue? He’s changing you already–I can see that. I suppose he’s told you not to talk to me.”

“Oh, Mama! He’s done nothing of the sort. It just amazes me you don’t want me to be happy. Why would you have me sacrifice everything Bob and I can do together for a lifetime of manipulation and domination?” By now I should have realized these were fighting words but somehow on this day I didn’t care.

“I want you to be happy. I just want you to make the right choices and you’re not doing that. He was married before and he has children, two of them. What will happen to Craig having to live a life like that?”

“Well, if you haven’t noticed, I’m divorced and I have a son by my first marriage. I see no difference. What about you and Daddy? You both were married before and had three children between you when you married. Was that OK, and my promise of marriage isn’t?”

Mama sensed this wasn’t going well for her. As usual, she clammed up and used the cold shoulder treatment, which was fine by me. I told Craig to come with me–I had shopping to do. We left but only to go for a drive and an ice cream cone. Plus a stop at a payphone. It was time to move our wedding date to an earlier time.

When I called Bob and told him what had transpired, he agreed we should get married as soon as possible. He said he would call the pastor who was marrying us and see if the next Saturday, one week away, would work. It was a good thing we were planning a small and simple family wedding. Each year we celebrate our marriage on August 15th, not in December as first planned.

Taken in 1983 at Meyer FamilyGathering in Bickleton, WA

Copyright 2015 Sherrey Meyer

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p id=”yui_3_17_2_5_1500341712813_962″>This was perhaps one of the most difficult encounters with Mama. Her manipulative skills and ability to belittle and demean did not let up when we reached adulthood. As the song says, “the beat goes on,” and with Mama it went on and on. It is my plan to share other excerpts from time to time. Likely, they will change somewhat before publication, but I’d like to share some of my story with you along the way.

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye — July 2, 2015

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter’s Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt by D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye's memoir, Conflicted Hearts
D.G. Kaye’s memoir, Conflicted Hearts

Somehow I believed it was my obligation to try to do the right thing by her because she had given birth to me.Burdened with constant worry for her father and the guilt caused by her mother’s narcissism, D.G. Kaye had a short childhood. When she moved away from home at age eighteen, she began to grow into herself, overcoming her lack of guidance and her insecurities. Her life experiences became her teachers, and she learned from the mistakes and choices she made along the way, plagued by the guilt she carried for her mother.

Conflicted Hearts is a heartfelt journey of self-discovery and acceptance, an exploration of the quest for solace from emotional guilt.

(Synopsis and image via Goodreads)

Imagine feeling frustrated and powerless in a situation you’re desperate to resolve. When you’re a child, that angst multiplies immensely because you are only that–a child. You have no power to speak out about what you’re feeling, and neither are you permitted to ask questions that might soothe your inner turmoil, because the cause of your dilemmas are adult matters that apparently shouldn’t concern you. ~ D.G. KayeConflicted Hearts

My Thoughts:

At the beginning of Chapter 8 of Conflicted Hearts , the same chapter from which the above quote is taken, D.G. Kaye writes the following:

We are the products of our parents. How can they teach us what they didn’t know?

Likely, these words resonate with more than one reader with parents from the same generation as Kaye’s.

The author’s fluid writing style and storyteller’s voice gives the reader a sense of sitting down over a steaming cup of coffee or tea with a friend. The friend begins to tell you what life was like for her as a child. You sit in disbelief, wondering how this positive, strong, loving woman lived through the parenting received at the mind and hands of her mother.

Yet, our author and friend lives with a guilt burdening her for far too long. This is the skin she wants to shed–the skin of her guilt feelings. It appears to this reader nothing has been D.G. Kaye’s fault with respect to her mother and her mother’s behavior. The guild is just another layer applied like frosting on a cake. Only this isn’t frosting. It isn’t sweet, and it leaves an acid taste in your mouth.

D.G. Kaye is not ashamed nor abashed about telling her story and sharing it with those willing to read. Her truthful memories will unfasten for others the doors to walk through to the other side of life. Life filled with love, happiness, and respect.

Thank you to the author for the gift of her words.

My Recommendation:

I highly recommend this book for anyone who lived through an emotionally and verbally abusive childhood, one like D.G. Kaye’s. Remember, you are not the one at fault, and reading Kaye’s memoir will help you understand that.

Conflicted Hearts: A Daughter's Quest for Solace from Emotional Guilt

Book Details:
Publisher: D.G. Kaye
Published: January 9, 2014
Kindle Edition: 202 pages
ASIN: B00HDTPPUQ

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Conflicted Heartsfrom the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. The opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Conflicted Hearts is available for purchase at the following booksellers:*

*Please read about Affiliate Links under the Disclosure tab above.

Meet D.G. Kaye:

Author D.G. Kaye
Author D.G. Kaye

D.G. Kaye is a nonfiction writer of memoirs about her life experiences, matters of the heart and women’s issues. She began writing when pen and paper became tools to express her pent-up emotions during a turbulent childhood. D.G.’s writing began as notes and cards she wrote for the people she loved and admired when she was afraid to use her own voice. D.G. journaled about life, and her opinions on people and events. She later began writing poetry and health articles for a Canadian magazine as her interest was piqued by natural healthcare.

Becoming interested in natural healing and remedies, D.G. began reading extensively on the subject after encountering quite a few serious health issues—family and her own. Against many odds, Kaye has overcome adversity several times throughout her life.

Kaye began writing books to share her stories and inspiration. She looks for the good and the positive in everything and believes in paying it forward. “For every kindness, there should be kindness in return. Wouldn’t that just make the world right?”

Her favourite saying: Live. Laugh. Love …and don’t forget to breathe! is her website logo, to remind herself and others that we often forget to take a pause.

You can find D.G. on social media and her author and blog pages:

www.dgkayewriter.comwww.goodreads.com/dgkayewww.amazon.com/author/dgkaye7www.conflictedhearts.comwww.menowhatthememoir.com

www.twitter.com/@pokercubsterwww.facebook.com/dgkayewww.about.me/d.g.kaye.writer

(Image and bio via Goodreads)

A Timeline Story: Behind-the-Scenes in Writing My Memoir — June 30, 2015

A Timeline Story: Behind-the-Scenes in Writing My Memoir

By Francodavi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Francodavi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Beginning next week, I start a series of posts about my timeline story, or better yet the timeline of my writing life. My purpose is to share with you where my love of words and writing is rooted and how that love prompted me to write my memoir.
I must give credit to Joel Friedlander for this idea. Joel’s own timeline series fascinated me, in part because of his background in typesetting, lithography, publishing, and related fields. You can find Joel’s series here.

The number of posts I will share is still unknown as I’ve not yet finished my timeline story. Yet I promise not to drag it out or carry on too long. No doubt the image above holds more Post-its than my writing life has interesting facts.

And it may not be as fascinating to you as it is to me. I believe my timeline story holds enough interesting background to my writing life and the lessons I’ve learned you may find something helpful in your own writing life.

These posts will be archived on their own page, A Timeline Story, at the Blog tab above. This archive will remain accessible ad infinitum.

The invitation to join me on this exploration of why I write, when I started writing, the impetus behind my book, and even a look at my writing community online is open to all takers.

Looking forward to your company in the coming weeks, perhaps months. Who knows?

A Day in the Life | School’s Out! (Episode #4) — June 17, 2015

A Day in the Life | School’s Out! (Episode #4)

A Day in the Life (2015_03_16 17_34_19 UTC)All over the city, in the suburbs, out in the rural areas the shout is the same, “School’s out!”

Mothers fortunate enough to stay at home cringe at the change in their daily schedules. Working moms and dads struggle to find a responsible soul to watch over their kids too young to stay alone.

Parents of preteens and teens have a separate set of worries–peer pressure, broken rules, or the cost of camp.

Did our parents experience these frustrations the day school let out for the summer? Did we as parents? Continue reading

Second Cousins Mean More Than You Know — June 3, 2015

Second Cousins Mean More Than You Know

Where did I come from? Which relatives do I look like?

I was 12 when I first met any of my dad’s family. Raised in an orphanage, Daddy was separated from his sister and brother around 16. But he had persevered in his search for them, and in 1958 he found them living in Florida.

Daddy’s sister, Lucinda (aka Lucy), her husband, and their daughter lived in Tampa, FL, and his brother, Fred and his wife and daughter, lived in Orlando. We traveled to meet them all.

Our first stop was in Tampa at Aunt Lucy’s. In the back of my mind, I assumed Aunt Lucy would look like most of my relatives–slender and petite. Even my dad was small in stature but then his health had been poor since before I was born.

The slender and petite rankled my near adolescent mind as I was what I considered a “chunkette.” I despised how I looked, especially at family gatherings. Based on my dad’s slight build, I assumed his relatives would be the same.

Daddy and Aunt Lucy during a 1963 visit. Aunt Lucy was 67 at the time.
Daddy and Aunt Lucy during a 1963 visit. Aunt Lucy was 67 at the time.

I’ll never forget as Aunt Lucy opened the door to our ringing the doorbell. There I stood with a few decades added on. I’m not sure if my gasp was audible, but I felt it. My existence as a “chunkette” was affirmed! Aunt Lucy was the relative I resembled.

That evening Aunt Lucy and Uncle Tom’s daughter, Jean, and her two daughters joined us for dinner. Jean was a lovely woman nearer my mother’s age than mine, but she was my cousin despite the age difference. The second cousin relationship was explained to my brother and me as Jean introduced her daughters, Barbara and Sherrill.

Barbara was beautiful! Diminutive in size, blonde and tanned, and blue eyes, she could have been a model except for her height. At first, I could only focus on her with envy. Then Sherrill entered the dining room.

It happened again–I saw myself taking the chair beside me. We looked alike, both in facial features and stature. Our hands were almost identical in shape and size. Our names were even similar! How gracious God was to bring me two images of what I’d look like at Sherrill’s age, then 22, and Aunt Lucy at 62.

I gloried in this new-found glimpse of people whom I favored. My gene pool could most definitely be found on Daddy’s family tree. This was a happy moment.

Just a matter of time–all good things come to an end.

As time slipped by and we moved to Oregon from Tennessee, farther away from Florida and family, I kept in touch with my cousin, Jean. Not only a lovely woman but also gracious, Jean has always stayed in touch with me over the years. Her husband was killed in WWII leaving her with Barbara and Sherrill. When her parents left Kentucky for Florida, she moved her little family with them.

Over the years both my Aunt Lucy and  Uncle Tom passed away, and Jean’s girls married and began their families leaving Jean in the spacious house in Tampa. Aunt Lucy’s life ended at the same time Barbara’s young daughter was killed in an automobile accident and shortly afterwards, Barbara ended her life.

This meant Jean and my second cousin, Sherrill, were my only family members left on Daddy’s side. His brother Fred had also passed away and his family chose not to stay connected with us.

Jean had mentioned in letters Sherrill’s poor health over the last almost seven years. Yet she never mentioned specifics, and I didn’t ask.

Knowing I owed Jean a letter, I laughed when Bob handed me another letter from her in Friday’s mail. I was certain she was reminding me of my tardiness. As I opened the envelope, a clipping from the Tampa newspaper fell out. Only it wasn’t just any clipping. It was Sherrill’s obituary. Now, she too is gone. My mirror images have faded away in Aunt Lucy and Sherrill. But my memories of them have not faded. I’m so grateful for the few images I have of Aunty Lucy, and somewhere (don’t ask!) I have a photo of Sherrill and me.

At 100 this month, my cousin, Jean, is my last living relative on the Adams side of my family history. I spoke with her by phone on Saturday, and we laughed over my adolescent need to “identify” myself with some family member. We agreed I couldn’t have chosen two more delightful women to look like and with whom to share common interests.

My cousin, Jean Shivell Bell, in 2006 at age 91.
My cousin, Jean Shivell Bell, in 2006 at age 91.

Whatever you do don’t waste an opportunity to stay in touch with family.

Time is short. Days fly by. We get busy and think about people, especially family, but often it gets lost in the next task or errand. I had not seen Sherrill since 1976, and our lives had grown apart due to age difference and lifestyles. Not a good reason not to try to contact her now and then.

Because time flies by, don’t waste an opportunity to write, email, or call that family member who just crossed your mind.

Is there someone you should get in touch with sooner than later?

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…A Very Good Place to Start — May 20, 2015

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…A Very Good Place to Start

Perhaps the title sounds a bit familiar. The words form a phrase from the song, “Do Re Mifrom The Sound of Music
When thinking of ways to make my blog focus more memoir-centric, I kept going back to the beginning. My beginning. When I started out in this life.

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

It was 1946. February 10 the day. My parents had agreed on having no more children. Between them, there were already three–my mother’s son and my father’s two daughters–from previous marriages.

A short honeymoon in Chattanooga, TN, changed the course of their lives, and I entered the world a little over nine months later.

When I was born, my parents were living in an upstairs apartment on 17th Avenue South in Nashville, TN. Not a large space, the apartment became more crowded following my birth, or so I’m told. A view of the street, as it looks today, is seen here:

RCA Studio A
RCA Studio A

The address where my family lived is now home to the RCA Victor Recording Studios. The street was renamed Music Row as part of the entertainment district in Nashville. It looks quite different from the building housing my folks’ apartment.

Sometimes I jokingly tell people I was born on Music Row. If they put a recording studio on the site where you were living immediately after birth and rename the street, you aren’t to blame, are you? And it’s my story, right?

While living there, Mama stayed home with me and Daddy went off to work as a linotype operator. His apprenticeship for a newspaper in a small town south of Nashville seeded his ongoing love of printing and publishing.

Mama and me, 1946
Mama and me, 1946

I have no idea what life was really like in that apartment and among the three of us. But I want to believe it was a happy time. Here’s a photo of Mama and me when I was about six months old. It looks as though it might be in a nearby park in the area or on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

Now you know that I hail from Nashville. You know my birthdate which means you also know how old I am. And you know that the first house I lived in was torn down and replaced by a recording studio.

Memories, even bittersweet ones, are better than nothing.
~Jennifer L. Armentrout, Onyx 

These are my beginnings. As barefoot as I am in this photo, barefoot I would be every chance I got until I was much older. Wearing shoes is so un-Southern.

I hope to bring you more tales from Nashville as I move on with completing my memoir and begin the publishing journey.

What about you? Where were your beginnings? Is the first house you lived in still standing? Any memories you’d like to share? Join in below–I’d love to hear more about each of you.