"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn

"ignore the story. see the soul. remember to love. you will never regret it" --- Seane Corn
it's a jungle out there

Friday, June 25, 2010

show yourselves

I can't sleep. I'm tired, but these days I'm up late and awake early. It's OK. I'll sleep next week.



Sister Melanie scanned a bunch of photos onto her laptop and a montage of our mom's life played on a big screen throughout the wake last night.

I was mesmerized.

Photos from infancy up until just this February. Old black and whites that look like they should be in a coffee table book.
Memories of the Great Depression. The Real Grapes of Wrath. This Is How Dirty Kids Get When There Is No Running Water.

Amazing, captivating photos. Swaddled in bed next to my oh so handsome grandfather. She and her big brother as babies in the tar paper shack in which she was born. Five little kids roaming around with Prince, their Canine Protector. Damn she loved that dog.

I could go on and on. Pictures from EVERY stage and age of her life. It was amazing.
Did I say that already?

Everyone was mesmerized. Over the three hours there was not a single minute when eyes were not glued to the screen.

It was her whole life.

Pictures of their wedding. There were 7 people there. Including them. It was illegal in half the states for them to marry. She wore a white Jackie O type dress and a little pillbox with that netting stuff over her eyes. He wore a black suit. They tossed rice. The couple who was their best man and matron of honor stood last night and saw the pictures he had taken 48 years ago after the ceremony. Oh lord the look on his face when those picts came up on the screen I took those pictures! The only thing that made me cry last night was looking into the eyes of that old friend, my mom's matron of honor. I felt like I was being sucking into a wormhole. It felt like those moments in Lost when they remembered. We held each other's hands and looked in to each other's eyes and so many memories popped in to my head. We just looked at each other and felt the connection that was my mother.

That's when I lost it. So I sat with Bruce and buried my head in his shoulder and he whispered stuff in to my ear and I felt better. He's good at that.

Pictures of her in her 30's and 40's. So hip in a not even trying way. I mostly remember her in sweatpants. She was like me. She just wanted to be comfortable and only sometimes really cared how she looked. Sitting in a bikini at the swim club. Sitting at a party. Sitting in the dining room.
Sitting with my dad at a party. The two of them looking totally Mod Squad. Stunning.
She had told us that picture was taken at a key party. They had met a nice couple and been invited to a party which turned out to be an honest to god 70's wife swap affair. Put your keys in a bowl. Close your eyes and pick a key. That's who you go home with.


They got the hell out of Dodge. I'm not sure if they laughed over it or freaked the fuck out. We all got a helluva good laugh though. To think that our parents were cool enough to be unbeknownst to them invited to that kind of party. too funny

A guy we knew as kids from our church youth group watched the montage. At my dad's 80th birthday party I remember him saying
there was always something about you Patrick sisters. Like The Virgin Suicides.

He looked at the screen and said MILF. I cracked up. He claimed it just slipped out. I said I know, right? She was hawt. And look at that one. Drunk and hawt. He said you can't beat that. Jack said did he just say MILF? Mom do you know what that is? Are you sure? Do you really know what MILF means?
I said with a sigh yes Jack, I really know what MILF means. Jack said did he just say MILF and Grums in the same sentence?
I said jeez Jack look at her. She was gorgeous.

Gorgeous. Not in the classic way. She had the high cheekbones and curved nose and hooded eyes of her Shawnee ancestors. She always hated her nose. She had the fair skin and hazel eye of her Norwegian mother. Thick brown hair that I think always kind of aggravated her.

Pictures with all of us through the years. Pictures with her grandchildren. Pictures of her visiting her family of origin on the west coast. She maybe saw them half a dozen times over the past 50 years.

Sister Adrienne looked at me and said she looks happy. in all the pictures she's happy

I don't understand. In my memory, she was never happy. But in these dozens and dozens and dozens of pictures she's happy. Not just smiling.
A happiness you can see in her eyes.

I wish I remembered her as happy. I wish I had known her better. I wish she could have let us in. She didn't know how. But it was such a relief to see that she wasn't as miserable as I remember. She had many moments of happiness.

Kori wrote this. It really moved me this week.
If I could be so bold as to say to all you mamas: Let your children in. Don't worry so much about teaching and setting an example. Don't worry at all about the laundry and dust. Let your children see who you really are. Tell them stories of your childhood. Write down your memories and what makes you tick. The good and the bad. Let them know you as WOMEN. Be honest about who you are.
Drag them to soccer. Be a PTA mom. Or a career woman. Or whatever. But let your babies know the REAL YOU.

That goes for Daddys, too.

I wish I had known their secrets. There's no need for secrets. We're human and flawed. We're human and amazing.
We're magical. We're super heroes.

Let your children in.


  1. This post moves me so much. I really have no words. Just right on. You really know it, Michelle. You really do. All this and I am sorry about your Mama. You are in my heart.

  2. i can't tell you how wonderful it is for me to witness you digging Her

  3. Michelle, your post is buzzing in my head. I did for my parent's 50th anniversary and my dad's memorial the same thing, trying to capture the essence of their lives into a slide show. When Dad died, I think it gave me something to hang on to, to get right, my final gift to him, to try and show everyone their pieces of him assembled into who he truly was. I haven't been the same since. My world tilted a little bit, because when I started looking at the pictures I saw them as children, young people, entities other than Mom and Dad, and knew I had seen only what a child is able to see. Something about the arc or march of time has just stuck in my head, and I'm left with a million questions thanks to those photos noone remembers much, if anything about. And the irony is, the problems I've had with my mom my whole life involve not living up to her perception of who I should be or am, and vice versa. It will take more than a slide show for us to breach that gap.
    Anyway, there is something so deeply riveting about seeing a life portrayed in its entirety, captured in bits a pieces and projected larger than life onscreen. It just rocked my entire childhood mythology off its foundation. I had no clue. And my head spins wondering what reality I'm creating for my kids, what they'll remember about me, (menopausal bitch is a frontrunner these days) but I think for you, your kids already know your heart, because it's wide open. We try hardest to give what we did not get, I think.
    I'm so sorry for the loss you and your sisters have to process - your mother was an amazing woman - and hope you find some smiles that were just for you tucked away in your memory. With love, Mel

  4. Michelle,
    You and Adrienne have been in my thoughts. I love this post. I'd love to see a photo or two of your mom. I'm glad you realized the happiness. That is a gift.

    Love you mucho,


  5. That's pretty cool she told you about the swapping party. My thoughts are with you this week. Thank you for sharing all of this. You have provided a very good message.

  6. I haven't responded to youe email yet (as you know), not because I have nothign to say but too much. I can't find the words, for the email or this post, to truly tell you how I feel and how you-and this-affect me. Yet-I think on some level you know. I am thinking peace for you.

  7. No. My mother never let me in either. Or else, drew me in too much. One or the other. I don't know. It wasn't good. It wasn't healthy.
    You're making me think. I don't always like to think, Michelle. But I like to think about you and how you are getting to know your mother in a way you never have and it's not too late. It's not.
    Thank you so much for sharing all of this and for sharing your mother and your thoughts. THIS is what the blogging world can be. THIS.
    I love you. You know that.

  8. This is a very beautiful post. You should link back to it often.

  9. Stunning. Thank you. I want to be the mother you describe. There's too many walls in this world already.

    I just love you, Michelle.

  10. wow. im moved and inspired.

  11. No words here but BRAVO. And thanks. And love.

  12. Wasn't it awesome to see all those pics, though? I remember doing something similar for mom. I worked furiously for two days with little sleep. But God...I loved seeing all those memories in front of me.

    I love your message, too. I actually have to make a conscious effort to let my guard down with my kids. My parents were both really guarded so I don't want to be that way with my own.

  13. I agree with Ms. Moon - letting your children in can be a dangerous business. I agree with you that we should, but I want to be careful it doesn't become a burden. I never liked how much my mother would complain about my father to us. Still does.

    Don't you think it's a shame these pictures and feelings only come together after death? It's always like that, and can't be avoided. It would be weird before - a wake for a not-dead person. But it always feels strange. Unless, I suppose you believe they are watching. Which my grandmother for one would have believed.

    You are making me think and feel about family. You are so lovely. And so is your blog.

    (I hope none of this came out wrong - I mean it all well. I'm just completely exhausted and should be in bed. Just like you, by the sound of it.)

  14. Dammit. Making me cry again.

    Mine never let me in. I don't have a clue who she is and I fear she hasn't a clue either.

    This here? What you just wrote? Best advice ever.

    I soooo wanna come hang out with you on your purple porch.

  15. My granny just passed last month, and we did the SAME thing with the picture montage. I'm grateful she let us in, as best she could, even though her generation didn't always advocate for that.

    I miss her everyday -I am thinking of you and thank you for this post.

  16. Michelle, thank you for letting US in. I think the whole topic of of showing our real selves, to whom, how much, what, when...the whole topic is one we could all talk about a LOT, and we each have our own stories to tell on the topic. And as Ms. Moon points out, this is indeed what the blog world can be.
    For just right this minute, though, I think it's about you ("You Patrick Sisters" - loved that). What you want to share, what you want to talk about, what you need from the circle of love you've created in your real world, and the one you've extended to your parallel world in the blog space. It's all about you, because we all cry with you and laugh with you, and we love your ASS off.
    Sending love, and light and more love.

  17. What an outpouring. There is so much surge and flow between my mama and me. She died 2 years ago, but she is never gone. TRYING to be the mama and grandmama she could not teach me to be.
    So sorry for your loss.

  18. Just reading this makes me feel like I was there watching the slides and the amazement on your faces.

    Such a great message that you took away from that experience - such a gift to share it with us.

    Thank you xo

  19. I knew exactly which of Kori's post you had linked to, because I read it an hour ago, and it moved me, too. I'm so curious to know when your mom stopped being happy. Maybe some day, you'll know.

  20. You felt the love that is your mom...that is us. Dont think that cause she forgot sometimes what she was made of means she wasn't happy and full of love. You can't change what you're made of...you can only change the wrapping so people think what's inside is different- when it's really all the same.All the love love love LOVE to you
    ps- saw mia- she has the heart of a yogini...amazing to talk to her about her practice, with all her focus! What a radical being that one is. Can't wait to all go to Amma. We will have email plans because I am going to see my family and getting back Sunday nite.

  21. I love what Kori said, thanks for sharing it.
    It is so right on for what you were feeling.
    I'm so sorry about your mom.
    You're writing is beautiful and so are you.
    You are that kind of mom.


so... wadaya think?

Your fairy is called Columbine Icedancer
She is a bone chilling bringer of justice for the vulnerable.
She lives in mushroom fields and quiet meadows.
She is only seen when the bees swarm and the crickets chirrup.
She wears lilac and purple like columbine flowers. She has icy blue butterfly wings.