I remember the first time I became of aware of me. A sense of myself; separate and aware of my existence, within a group of others or a part of something else.
I was in first grade. My teacher was Miss Hilda. She had red hair, fair skin. Her teeth were crooked. Two prominent front teeth, the lower ones mashed together, one shoved up against the other. It wasn’t something I was aware of then, her teeth. Funny how I remember now though. I watched a documentary last week on John F. Kennedy, Jr. and his teeth were not perfectly straight and not glaring white either.
Now, everyone’s teeth are white and perfect, like a row of chiclets. I’m aware of teeth.
Back to first grade. My father, who never wore a suit or tie or hat, showed up in the doorway of my classroom with a suit, tie and hat on. About 10-15 little heads swiveled his way, including one bigger one, Miss Hilda’s. She held up a finger, acknowledging him, as she went back to scratching on the green chalkboard with a nub of chalk.
I was squirming because I knew why he was there. Miss Hilda finally wrapped it up. She erased the board, swished the palms of her hands together to remove the chalk dust and nodded her head at me. “Go ahead,” she said, looking at me, then at my father.
I fast-walked over to Daddy. I wanted to run, but there was a strict teacher-student decorum and we weren’t supposed to run inside. No.
“Daddy! Is it a boy?” I looked up at him, that Mad Men-like hat on his head. I think he was uncomfortable in that suit but he shouldn’t have been. I thought he was the most handsome man in the world.
He squatted down beside me. “It’s a girl.” I hugged him and he hugged me back. I don’t remember much after that. I think he left to go back to the hospital maybe and I went on with my first-grade day.
I was the second of three girls and we’d all been waiting for a boy; all of us just knowing the four of us would then become a hierarchy of girl on one end, boy on the other. I felt a a little let-down at the news. I wondered if my father felt it but I didn’t ask him. He seemed happy so I was happy.
That day I became acutely aware that things don’t always work out the way you think they’re going to, but that baby girl grew up to become one of my best friends.
To Be or Not To Be Aware
I’m not sure we really grasp the concept fully of being aware until we experience loss. I think awareness comes slowly through the passage of time, it matures as you do.
“There were these eagles and they all wore little wigs,” my father said pointing up and laughing. “What Daddy?” I asked him. “What are you talking about?”
The TV, he said, stabbing his finger in the air, getting frustrated. He was lying in the bed of a hospital room. Machines beeped as he looked at me, his eyes opening and shutting slowly. I told him that was funny, thinking he must be imagining something from the medication. He smiled, shook his head slightly.
I talked to him about inconsequential things until he became tired. I left him sleeping fretfully, he hated doctors and hospitals. A tiredness was in my bones and worry wore at me incessantly. Sleep, when it came, was brief and something to be gotten over in order to keep doing this other thing to be gotten over—go to a hospital and watch my father fade—day in, day out.
My foggy brain was aware of what was happening and in a minute niggling part of it, I knew, despite my trying to control what was happening, there was nothing I could do to stop it. When I had to leave to go back to where I lived then, we locked eyes before I walked out the door. Both of us knew. But that awareness was too big; there just wasn’t any place to put it.
Awareness is a big thing, isn’t it? It’s a mind full of what truly is. Something’s too painful or we believe if we don’t acknowledge it, it will go away. We don’t want to feel it. We don’t want to face it. It remains though, skirting at the periphery of awareness until it simply can’t. Until it lands right in your big place of NOW and then, well, you just have to deal with it.
I believe as we grow older we become more adept at being aware. I think it’s because we learn how to—better—from living, aging. That’s life, period and we’d better be aware if we want to also be aware of the fleeting preciousness of it.
I understand that in the tick tock of my life now, there’s going to be times where the memory of some painful experience will feel as sharp as the day it happened. But I’m also learning to just settle into it. Feel it—the uncomfortableness of it—all of it.
I think, if our loved ones can indeed still communicate, when we feel these things, it could be them telling us: I’m okay and this thing that you’re feeling is love—the forever imprint of me. Be aware. Be happy. Have a sense of humor about life. You know who you are and you know what you want.
Oh, and those eagles with wigs (view below). Turns out it was a funny commercial my father watched while he was in that room by himself. He was the one aware. I was the one who wasn’t.
But I am now.
Happy Monday everyone.
Do you remember your first big thump of awareness or have you had a big whop of awareness lately?
I would like to be less aware. I think I once walked through life unaware. I think I was happier then……
Maybe…but I think the more one is on the planet, the more one becomes aware.I’d like to be both aware and happy and most days, it works for me. After all, we are all a work in progress, huh? Thanks Lou.
we are a work in progress….I have set myself a deadline to get the backlog of paperwork I have to do done–Canadian Thanksgiving–then never get myself in this kind of mess again. Just like the IRS the Canada Revenue Agency only has so much patience….then I will put together my poetry and perhaps self-publish it–who knows?
I think that’s a grand idea, Lou. You should. You are a lovely poet or poetess. :). I bet October is a beautiful time of year there, for Thanksgiving. Get it over with (the nasty paperwork) and begin the New Year with vigor, eh?
Thank you, Lou.
October is one of my favourite months of the year–I love autumn and it is usually pretty nice weather here
I’m wondering if it’s EVER going to cool off here. We had the hottest July on record and I think 90 days of 90 plus temps. Most near 100 with heat indexes of 5000. Oy vey. It’s hot. I hope it will be Fall here in October but I’m not expecting it, hoping that I’ll be happily surprised. :). Fall is my favorite time of year — anywhere!
that is just too much–we set a record too but it is nowhere near yours–now I am feeling better…….hope you get some relief soon!
Thoughtful words today, Ms B. Lately Im waking up and being more aware of my relationships. Where do I truly belong and what is my role. Its painful and very humbling.
Awareness is good. A maturity at every stage no matter how old we are.
Thank you, A. I bet you are but you’re smart and resourceful and you will figure it out. Any change, any time we have to stretch and grow, it’s painful. But that’s life, joy and pain and I suppose we learn a lot from all experiences, don’t we? Hope you got some good rest my friend.
What a strange commercial
Yes. But funny.
Sent from my iPhone
I think we are born Aware, Brigitte. As we live through our childhood learning and experiencing all the things our parents, as good parents, want us to learn and experience, the Awareness dims. It’s only with time, when we choose Awareness, that we begin to awaken to our own Truth. That’s what I know to be True.
Thanks for sharing your contemplation! 😉 xoxoM
Hey M, you may be right. Maybe we come full circle. We are born aware and free from strife and as you say, learn how to be more clouded, reserved as we have different experiences. Thank YOU for sharing your contemplations as well. 😄
Awareness is something that I value both in myself and in other people, though I continue to experience and learn what a humbling experience it can be. I was dolloped a huge steaming mess of awareness at work recently about myself from other people, which is always the hardest kind for me to accept, especially since I pride myself on being self-aware. But though it took a while for me to process and feel it without getting my emotions in a tizzy, I know now that it has pushed me a step further in being better as an individual. Though there’s the saying that “ignorance is bliss,” I think challenging ourselves to be aware and then CHOOSE our reactions accordingly is maybe what makes all the difference. As always, thanks for a post full of thought-provoking things!
Hey Lillian! That kind of awareness—the one that comes out of nowhere—is often difficult to handle, isn’t it? I think most of us experience this, whether it’s from what we think people are viewing us as and what we are—it’s vastly different at times. And, a big eye-opener when someone brings something to our attention. I’m sure whatever it was you handled it with your elegant “Lillian” grace. It would be nice to stay in that ignorance is bliss stage I suppose, but at some point, it no longer works. (that scene from the Matrix always comes to mine—take the blue pill or the red pill :))
There’s much to be learned when we take the blinders off, isn’t there? Thank you, as always, for adding your beautiful sentiments — so nice to see you.
When my dad died two years ago this month, Brig, that was a game changer for my siblings and me. Suddenly, late in middle age, the three of us were orphans. My sister pointed out that we’re now at the head of the line. Psychologically, that took getting used to, but I’ve accepted it as another stage in life. I’ve lived long enough to no longer have parents. For my siblings and me, when we start to kick, that will be very hard. No one wants to go first, just as no one wants to stick around longest. Right now, we’re all pretty healthy, which is great. I don’t like to dwell on the more morbid aspects of life, but I know that I’m probably well beyond the mid-way point in my stay on planet earth.
You probably know exactly what I talking about. I can’t seem to write a post that honors my father the way I’m trying to, but this was a start for me. Just began thinking about it one day—hit me—as it does from time to time and I wrote it down.
Skirting the line between humor and maudlin isn’t easy because life—and the passage of it—isn’t easy either. And, humor should be included because it’s one of the best things about life, as you well know.
The “head of the line,” I never thought of it that way, but that is exactly it and it is humbling. I don’t like to dwell on the morbid, as you say, and hope it didn’t read that way—not at all, it’s life with all its sh*t and shine, that’s just the way it is baby! :).
BTW, I just finished a book, “They May Not Mean To, But They Do,” by Cathleen Schine, recommended to me by our mutual friend (upchucking words) and it’s so great. I related to it and I think you would too. Thanks, V—always great to see you and hope you and your new digs are doing spectacularly. Love to Milton.
I enjoyed this post, especially the twist at the end with your dad. Awareness—lots to think about, Brigitte.
Thanks for the nudge,
Hey Allan—glad you did and thank you! And that’s what this is all about, nudging each other to think about this or that, right? For me, anyway, whether that be through words or pictures. :). >
Hi, dear friend. Sorry I’m late to the party, but I’ve been up to my eyeballs lately!
Awareness. Yes. A life goal worthy of pursuing . . . the ongoing effort to attempt to align situational and self-awareness successfully with ‘the now’ whenever possible. Can take a lifetime to master the skill. It’s a tough one for sure. I have long lists of “I wish I had been aware of that then” that don’t amount to a hill o’ beans. We are not “Stepford people” . . . we’re all just learning as we go.
Sending hugs for each time you’re thinking of your dad and trying to say what’s in your heart.
Ah. Never too late Sue and great to see you here. Being Stepford people would be no fun at all. It’s the “mistakes” that teach us the most and being aware of that might be the best awareness of all. I do try to say what’s in my heart – whether it’s successful on the page matters not — it’s the from the heart part that matters most. 🙂. Thank you Sue.