Preserving Our Past For The Future

Monthly Archives: September 2011

Have you ever thought much about the way you sign your name…the flow of the letters, what the figures are that form your name, or how your teacher or parent taught you to craft them in a certain way? My 3 year old granddaughter is learning the letters of the alphabet in preschool. Each week she brings home a sheet with a new letter…she proudly shows us the picture she colored of a ball and says “ buh, buh, buh, B is for BALL!” We all laugh, clap and show her how proud we are that she is learning what the teacher is showing her each day. In much the same way, we all learned to write our ABC’s in school.

We took a lined tablet and the teacher drew those letters tediously for us at the top of the page. We copied what we saw, or what we THOUGHT  we saw. Some of the letters were crooked like ancient hieroglyphics and pretty messy. But as we practiced and perfected, the letters became an exact match to our teacher’s letters. Then one day, we learned the most important thing taught in school. We learned how to write our own name. And we suddenly had something that we could be identified with and recognized by. It was a monumental accomplishment.

Have you ever thought much about your signature? There are all different ways we identify, personalize, and express ourselves, and our signature is one of the first. We learn the “right” way, then we may try our hand at spicing it up a bit. Little circles for the dots over the I’s, or we write the first letter, then flourish  the rest ending up with something unreadable. We might print an odd mix of capitals and lowercase letters, or sign in a way that looks like a real work of art.

Everything you do in life bears your personal signature. Each action you take – the way you complete every task, each work assignment, a cherished craft project, or your choice in a marital or parental instance to step up, or step back– is a reflection of you. It is identifiable, and others know you by the way you “sign your name” to your life moments.

Take a moment and sign your name on a blank piece of paper. Now look at it … ponder it … consider it carefully. What does your signature stand for? What kind of work does it represent? What reputation comes with it? Who does it say you really are? Make it meaningful – because your signature is attached to everything you do, and are.

It’s my next to last night at the beach. I had felt a need to get away alone, reflect, write a bit, think some, regroup mostly. And the trip has been a wonderful opportunity for this, along with enjoying near perfect weather, meeting a few new friends, and getting some use out of my Kindle.

I meandered out of the condo about 7 and headed toward a local Mexican restaurant where I planned to sit and read the Kindle, people watch, and have dinner and one of their nice margaritas. But instead, at the last minute before my turn, I thought “Chinese buffet sounds a little better.” I had planned all week to go tonight to the Mexican place, so it was kinda funkily weird for me to change my mind at the last minute, but isn’t that what vacay is all about?

I sat down to a yummy dinner which included some really great sushi and was thinking I had made a good choice. A few tables emptied out, some others filled in and across from me a 40ish woman and two pretty teen girls sat down to have what appeared to be a Girl’s Night Out together. I had finished my dinner and lingered over a small bowl of chocolate pudding for dessert and was making my way through the last of Cybill Shepherd’s book on the Kindle.

“I just…well…I am just confused…”. I heard this drift over from the girls’ table, and even though the voices were quiet and subdued I could hear enough to know one of the young girls wasn’t a daughter of the woman, but her daughter’s friend. She was in a relationship, and the words “sad”, and “breaking my heart”, and the reassurance of the daughter and mother “we will be there for you if you decide to break this off” piqued my interest. Something inside me remembered, and I felt a sudden sorrow for this young girl.

I sat absently peering at my Kindle, but not reading, for the next half hour as the mom, with much wisdom, told the girl that the boyfriend was controlling her, and using her affections for his own purposes and not for her good. I heard how the Christian boy talked about things that were important to her when they were alone, treated her well, said and did all the right things, made all the right promises “I am sorry, it won’t happen again, I know this isn’t what ‘we’ are supposed to be together”…but when they were in public he shunned and ignored her, and treated her as if she had no worth. This young girl with an aching voice told of several times that she was trampled on by this young man doing things or saying things that he knew were not edifying her or their relationship, but he felt he could get away with the bad behavior because she was a person with a “good heart” and forgiving. Then the mom and girls went over to the buffet and began to get seconds.

You know how you will deep down know you are supposed to speak, and you begin to fight with yourself saying ” I don’t know them, they will think I am crazy or nosy”. But the feeling is so strong, it rushes over you and your insides start swirling and tumbling as you feel like there is a universe-ordained moment that you will miss if you don’t choose to voice what thoughts are in your own mind?

I felt that moment. And I chose to share her tears.

I dug out my phone and looked up a website quickly, wrote it on a notepad, along with the verse of Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” And I waited for them to return.

I gathered my things, and when I was sure I could give the information and then bolt, I said ” excuse me”. All three looked up and for the first time I saw the girl’s face and my heart was torn out of my chest. Beautiful, blonde, cheerleader-type. Her words, even about this young man who was treating her cruelly were soft and kind and gentle sounding…but her face was worn with sadness, engrained with rivulets of tears that stained her tanned cheeks. I recognized that face…it had been my face, more than once, over the last 51 years.

“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable but I couldn’t help overhearing some of what was said…” The mom said ” Oh, I am sorry, I talk so loudly.” But I stopped her…” No, you were very quiet and discreet…I am a mom, and moms have sensitive ears.” They all smiled, even the tear-stained girl for a brief moment. ” I just wanted to give you something…I have been where you are many times in my life, and I felt moved to give you something that helped me know how to make the hard decisions at times.”

I handed her my paper with the website for The Awakening by Sonny Carroll. I told her to get alone, read the poem and keep a copy with her and read it whenever she needed redirection. “In the middle of a relationship, it’s not always easy to see it for what it really is, and what it really isn’t”, I said. She teared up and said very quietly…”Did you have to leave someone you love even when you didn’t want to, because you knew it was better for yourself?”  “I told her yes, more than once. She said ” How can you do that though, how do you know when to leave?”

I asked her to give me the paper back, and scribbled something on it and said “Keep this as a reminder, you will always do what is best for you if you look at it often.” I had written ” When is it time to go? When the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving.”

As I drove back to my condo…and the young girl crawled under her covers alone in her room tonight…I imagine once more…we shared each other’s tears.