04 April 2014

Dear Mary Fran




Dear Mary Fran,

What a brave girl you are. You see injustice and jump in to right the wrongs. You let bullies know that they won't get away with picking on younger or weaker kids. You've gone to school on how to fight by watching the bigger boys carefully and learning their moves. You've kept yourself from getting hurt in your fights that way. Good for you. Your brothers and your girl friends are a little safer because of you. I admire you, your spunk, your loyalty to those you love, your belief that if something needs to be done then you'll do it. I can tell you that you're setting the foundation for our future.

I'm sorry about the change in messages that happened when you were 10 and moved to Malden Highlands to live with two aunts. All that stuff about being a good girl and a  proper young lady got you mixed up, mad and sad for quite awhile. I know you had lots more freedom in the Projects, that you got to do things more your way there. Mom was depressed and unable to be very present in those years and Dad was more focused on our brothers. It gave you the chance to call your own shots. You watched those around you and learned how to take care of yourself. And others. You came and went as you pleased without much adult interference. I know how much you liked that. You did a good job growing yourself up. 

Here's what I know now, that's it's also okay to lean on others, to even expect them to take care of you sometimes. Adults are supposed to do that for their kids. You ended up thinking you could do a better job in the taking care department than anyone else. But here's the thing, you were only 5 or 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 and too young to have that burden on your small shoulders. Remember the feeling you had every once in awhile when you didn't know what to do? Or that time when Uncle Joe came to the house after you had had an argument with Mom and he wanted to hug you?  You couldn't allow that although you wanted to be comforted, and finally, since your back was to him, you leaned your head back on his chest. Remember how good that felt? It's like that to share your burdens with someone who loves you. 

I know Mom and Dad love you but they're a little overwhelmed by their circumstances and they think you're doing just fine. Only you can tell or show them differently. You'll get better at that when you get older but I want you to know that I see it was hard for you and you had your reputation to uphold. You took on a lot. It will become your strength of character later and allow you great and tenacious compassion for the underdog. You'll build a career around those strengths. You'll also have a lot to learn. I know you don't feel smart because you don't do as well in school as our brothers, but, girl, you are smart! You'll come to believe that later in life.

You're going to have an amazing life- you'll meet and marry the most loving man and the best friend imaginable who'll love you totally. You'll have a daughter (yes, just one, although you want more now) who you'll love like crazy and be great friends with when you're both adults. You'll have two grandkids that you'll fall utterly in love with and who will challenge and delight you. You'll have a career in nursing (just like you want now) that you'll cherish, get your master's degree (yes, you!) so you can learn what you need to know about how to care for those with mental illness (don't worry, you'll feel right at home). You'll have four great girl friends who'll remain friends all through the years and enrich your life immensely (just like yours do now). You'll travel (just like you want) and get to know people all over the world, you'll get back into running  and love it (just like you do now) and you'll get back to loving your body (like you do now) after some goofy years of not liking it. See? You're already my teacher in so much. I'll have to remember a lot what you already know.

All that you've done so far will be a BIG part of allowing our abundant life to happen (with a lot of help from friends along the way). So relax a little, be a kid, have fun. You're a terrific girl. I like you lots and love you dearly. I appreciate all you've done to try to care for yourself. I'm coming. I'll help.

Love always,
Mary

A letter to my young self after sifting through photos recently for an ancestors book I put together and stirring up some very old memories. Posted for Fireblossom in Postmark: Poetry over at Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads who asked us, among other things, to write an old fashioned letter.

28 comments:

  1. This is excellent writing.

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    1. Thanks, MZ. My good friend suggested I write this letter when so much got stirred up recently.

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  2. I imagine this must have been a cathartic process, Mary. I see your strength shining through every line.

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    1. It was helpful to write this and feel grateful for the strengths of my young self.

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  3. Very good idea, writing to your(young) self. We don't think about the past that way enough, to be kind to ourselves, about how we were fallible, how we tried to do things that were beyond us--nicely done, Mary.

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    1. It's amazing to think of what we wrestle with - compassion seems appropriate.

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  4. What a great idea! I love your letter to yourself Mary. Cheers.

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    1. I have to give credit to my dear friend who suggested this approach when I was stuck. Our friends get us through!

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  5. smiles...that is cool...i like the encouragement you give to yourself in the opening to stay strong and fight for others....and the encouragement in the end to relax a bit and be a kid....we def need that....smiles.

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    1. You're right, we need enciuragement at any age.

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  6. What a beautiful letter to the younger you...We see much differently with adult eyes than we did when a child...for me it brought healing

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  7. This is marvelous. Young You sounds feisty and fair-minded and determined. Wouldn't it be something if we really could send a message to our younger selves?

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    1. It would and I wanted to after looking at all the photos and thinking back on all that happened. I like the feisty determination, the self sufficiency so young didn't work as well and had to be softened as I grew up. But she did the best she could and it was quite a lot. How do we decide so young to do the things we do?

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  8. I love yours-the encouragement the strength! What a wonderful gift-I am touched~

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    1. Nice perspective- a gift to myself. Thanks.

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  9. oh boy! this was so wonderful. It brought tears to my eyes. what a wonderful live you have lived. you are very brave and courageous and kind

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  10. love this novel idea of writing to self....and what beautiful words they are...

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    1. My friend who suggested this is very wise and loves well.

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  11. ah i knew you were writing to yourself... how cool... i've heard a girl do this the other way round - she wrote letters to her older self - cool as well... it's good to look back and be at peace at how things developed

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    1. I like that idea of a younger writing to an older self. Looking back it's good to realize it all came together to be my life and I'm grateful for my life.

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  12. Like Ella, I find myself deeply touched by this. I love that pigtailed freckle-faced girl in the second photo. She reminds me so much of a younger me.
    Thanks, Mary, for the gift of this poem.
    K

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    1. Thanks, Kay. There we were doing the best we could... I liked this process of visualizing and deciding what I wanted to say to my young self and writing it to her. I recommend it. I'd love to read what you come up with.

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  13. We should all write such a letter to our young selves. Thanks for the example of showing such self care and self acceptance.

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    1. Hard not to admire her which I guess is the blessing of self acceptance.

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  14. Oh, Mary. How I love the lift of your little chin. Brave enough for dragons, then and now.
    e

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    1. The photos are remarkable in what they show. My older brother in the first photo is head and shoulders taller than I was.

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