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Lancelot Meets My Mom (Sort of)

I had brunch with Lancelot on Sunday, and once again.

I enjoyed myself. I laughed a lot and did some very mild flirting. I reminded him that it seemed every time I gave him an inch, he would take ten miles.

He replied, and “If I keep walking every inch you give me, I’ll eventually get to where I want to be.”

Darn him. That was actually kind of smooth.

This time around, I’m noticing somethings. Lancelot has really nice eyes.

And I told him that. He seemed pleased.

I also noticed about myself, that I try to look in his eyes when we are talking, but sometimes I look away.

That’s a tell-tale textbook sign, I’m starting to really dig someone. When it’s hard for me to look at you and concentrate on what you are saying and I have to keep looking away, I’m feeling you. It’s almost like I’m being shy, which is silly. But I feel exposed and if I look in your eyes too long, you’ll catch me slippin.

I’ve always considered it to be your inner light shining way too bright for me and I don’t want you to notice that I see it and am having a reaction to it.

As usual we talked about a lot of stuff. Including religion, which is a topic I can’t stand discussing with people. I think religion is a personal thing, and you can only do your journey as you see fit. So for me to impress upon people how I live and worship and commune with God is absurd. Our spiritual being is as wonderfully individual as we are and I’m quite thankful that my God sees me and bases his mercy and grace on me, not on the curve, but as specific to me and my needs and desires and faults and talents.

What struck me the most about our conversation is, we discussed my mother.

He didn’t sit back in his chair in disbelief.

He did not judge.

He did not pity me.

And he had an opinion, of course. He wasn’t politely/nervously quiet about it as most people are.

He asked me some very real questions about it. And the one question that beat me over the head was, “Have you ever just asked her, what’s wrong, Mom? What happened? Can you explain to me how you feel?”

My gut reaction was that he was nuts.

So the more we talked, I did tell him, I felt I didn’t know my mother’s full story. That I don’t think anyone did.

He said, “Well have you tried it? For real?”

And I stumbled a bit saying I’ve tried to ask her, but she was just impossible and would go off into her rants about the government watching her or ramble on about something else. I would loose patience and quit. But I realized, I never just simply asked the question in that kind of way.

So I shut up. And I asked, “Where is my damn drink?”

Honestly, between trying to diagnose her myself, and being angry and dealing with all of my feelings about it, and everyone trying to deal with it and her and all of that stuff, I’m not sure if someone quietly and calmly just asked her point blank.

I thought of the possibility that there is a difference in the way my mother and father saw religion, and that she went along with his version of it to make him happy, and to present a unified family. However she wasn’t getting the same thing out of it, spiritually. The restrictive lifestyle was counter to her free spirit. The kind of people who made up that world, who were not like her and didn’t think like her, who didn’t question the necessity of certain behaviors and ways of dress to please God and seemed to just be okay with it, but secretly resenting it themselves… how the isolation may have even started there.

I identified with my mother and how as a woman, I wrestle with my very real love for God, and what I was told as a child was the proper and only way to live for Him and how those things inhibit my faith to this day.

One time she ceremoniously stood up in the middle of service and cussed everyone out. I was mortified.

Lancelot said, “Folks may have dismissed her as crazy, but I bet you she read everyone’s ass like a book.” I had to laugh at this.

“Yes, she used language that was not considered right, in the house of God, but I bet you, in that moment, your mother told the truth, and she was finally free.”

I was gobsmacked, yet again by his assessment.

Lancelot surmised that there may be more to my mom’s checking out than meets the eye. That she is still my mom and still has an instinct to protect and that even in her seemingly frantic and uncooperative ways, she still wants to protect me in her state.

He also brought to light that even in my mother’s rants, there is a truth, and there is her truth. He said, people don’t want to take the time to really talk to someone who folks label “crazy” because it is difficult and frustrating, but he was very encouraging and with a conviction seeming as sure as he was of his own name he said, “She’s still there, she’s still there.”

I was dumbstruck.

He didn’t linger, and when I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, we didn’t.

He approached the conversation with a confidence and sensitivity that I’m not used to. And while there were moments when I felt a little uncomfortable and silly, for not trying something so simple, and human and decent with my mother, who deserved that at a minimum, he simply smiled at me.

This discussion was brought on by me talking about how I wasn’t sure how to deal with my feelings toward a book called, “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.” I shared with him aloud of my dislike for the book was because either it really did suck, or my own experiences with my own mother biased me and raised familiar, uncomfortable feelings. I do think Ayana Mathis is a great, new writer and she tells a story vividly, and managed to jump from person to person, in their thoughts and gave them very individual thoughts and ideas and reasons for reacting or doing the things they did. So maybe I am biased.

This story is around a woman who is basically a cold mother to her children, who wasn’t necessarily a nurturing, touchy-feely type, because she was well aware that this is not a touchy-feely world. She simply wanted her children to survive. And because of that, they were all lacking and had equally tragic and suckie lives themselves. The ending crushed my heart, because she was going to inflict her perception of love onto yet another generation, with her granddaughter. There were no rays of hope anywhere to be found in that book. And while life has a number of dismal parts in it, I needed someone, somewhere, to have found some peace. But maybe that’s a harsh truth. We will wrangle with this lofty ideal of absolute peace and happiness, but not truly achieve it until we are transformed after death. Peace and happiness is a carrot and something to aspire to, that will keep us alive each day with purpose and will us to treasure the fleeting moments in which we do find it.

The only thing that I can surmise is because each section reflected each child during just one part of their life– but usually the most difficult and traumatic– that maybe it was just a piece of their lives and that they did manage to figure it out and heal themselves.

Lancelot managed to blow me away yet again and bring ease to a difficult conversation that I feel like I always have to build myself up for when I share it with people and then brace myself for the response.

He discussed it with me as if it were the weather, or work, or our dreams and goals. He added humor, but was never disrespectful, nor did he minimize the seriousness or the sensitivity of it. I was impressed and left breathless.

“I’d like to meet your mom, if you let me have the opportunity one day. From the way you’ve described her, she’s a tough lady. She’s a truthful lady.”

I think I’d actually like him to meet her someday too.

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One thought on “Lancelot Meets My Mom (Sort of)

  1. On Twelve Tribes of Hattie: I agree with you that the book is quite depressing throughout. But the Hattie definitely had a story that led to her being that way. It kind of reminded me of Oprah Winfrey’s character from “The Women of Brewster Place” after her son jumped bail and she lost the house. But yeah, not a happy book at all.

    On Lancelot’s take on your mom: I just know from what you have told me that your mom was a very spirited woman and I could see how someone could be drawn to that.

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