Jane Ahlin column: Can't avoid dealing with that woman
My niece graduated from high school this past week, and in the days leading up to her graduation, I endured a visit from the one woman on the planet who drives me crazy. The woman exhausts my patience within minutes, she's incapable of subtle...
My niece graduated from high school this past week, and in the days leading up to her graduation, I endured a visit from the one woman on the planet who drives me crazy. The woman exhausts my patience within minutes, she's incapable of subtlety, and she makes me feel about one inch high. As always, I'm left wondering why -- no matter how many years go by -- I can't avoid her.
The incident started innocently enough. My sister-in-law's mother was making a special memory book for my niece that covered significant moments from her babyhood to graduation. And this energetic grandma asked me to provide a newspaper clipping or a copied yearbook page about my own high school graduation to add to others from both sides of the family. Of course, I said I would be happy to do that, but I might have trouble finding something quickly.
Talk about understatement.
Finding something quickly" turned into finding nothing at all. Granted, within a matter of minutes, I put my hands on a box of high school and college memorabilia in a crawl space off the attic that included 2x3 inch senior pictures of everybody in my high school class, some snapshots of three friends and me dressed up for a talent show, and a (badly faded) student newspaper that had been run off on a ditto machine. There also were a few pictures of my husband as a small boy and two of his high school trophies (broken). And, for whatever reason, there were four pages torn from a 1979 magazine with recipes for meat, seafood, and vegetable pates.
My next effort was to go through the drawers of a couple old dressers where things around our house get stuffed when there's no logical place to put them. But that search yielded a Cabbage Patch doll with clothes and accessories (including paper diapers from 1984), an odd assortment of gift wrapping and ribbon, a few more trophies, most of the cards from our wedding, some of the programs from our daughter's wedding, and a variety of Christmas cards. Next, I checked the file cabinet which held a physics research paper I'd written in high school, along with letters from the same time, but nothing I was looking for. After that, I hit cupboards and drawers less likely to hold high school treasures. Oh, I found some really old stuff, such as a box of material -- cloth remnants from maternity dresses and toddler playsuits I'd sewn over two decades ago, brown corduroy from a "leisure suit" I made for my husband in the'70s (something he prefers to forget), and fake fur from a vest I made for my brother about the same time (something he also prefers to forget).
But there were no diplomas or newspaper clippings anywhere.
After a few hours checking every nook and cranny of the house, I gave up. By then the woman I detest was giving me a good going over. Even unorganized women would find you pathetic; your father may have had a grain elevator, but you don't know the difference between wheat and chaff; of all the things you've lost, do you miss your mind the most?
She kept it up and kept it up. And the fact this woman resides in my head -- a monster of my own making -- didn't make any difference. When I was in high school I think I expected her to go away when I grew up. But she's as vocal today as she was when I was quaking in my boots over final exams, worrying about job interviews, or having to call the clinic for shot records so my children could start kindergarten. And I suppose she'll still be around a few decades in the future when I can't find my Medicare card. I don't expect to like her any more then than I do now.
As for my niece's graduation memory book. My mother checked the archives of the local newspaper and found something to copy and send. Maybe I'll also send this column ... before I lose track of it.
Ahlin is a regular contributor to The Forum's commentary pages.