Photo credit: Tasha Tolliver
So, what exactly is courage? I’ve just spent more than a few minutes looking at definitions of this noun. I believe that if I found just the right one it would have this woman’s photo next to it.
According to Oxford English Living Dictionaries on-line, courage is defined as:
- the ability to do something that frightens one; bravery
- strength in the face of pain or grief
Meet Lynda Harrison Hatcher. Because of Lynda I stayed up way too late last night. I could not stop reading her memoir until I had read the final words and then the acknowledgements.
There is no ending to her story, at least not yet. And at the end of the book, she questions why she wrote it all in the first place. If it was hell for me to read every word of every paragraph of every chapter, I can’t imagine what kind of hell it was to write or to live, for that matter.
I might never have come across this book if not for the BFF. She and Ms. Hatcher were college friends. The BFF was in her seemingly fairytale wedding and she watched her sail off into the sunset of her imagined perfect life.
Not to be. Not in the cards. Not what the universe had in store for her.
If there is anyone in America whose life has not been touched by an addiction of some sort, I don’t know him/her. We can all put on a good face, pretend it hasn’t happened to us, throw disbelief and scorn at those who do admit it, all the while saying “Bless her heart.” And maybe even delivering a casserole, hoping to catch a glimpse of grief or heartbreak up close. Kind of like watching a car wreck. How many of the people we interact with on a daily basis are either the victim of an addiction or the family member or close friend of an addict. I cannot imagine a worse hell than being the parent of an addict. With the all-consuming question “What did I do to cause this?” All the while trying to keep up the façade, keep a child out of prison and/or alive, protect the addict’s siblings, the other children who need their parents. What about having to give up on the dreams you have had for that child since he/she was handed to you just seconds after arriving in this world? A mother’s instinct is to try to create a Disney-like childhood, never yell, let alone have a complete screaming breakdown with the windows open, never be too disappointed or to disappoint your children. To protect him/her come hell or high water. To be a fierce fixer.
But what if we aren’t in control? How much is personality and /or genetic? The old nature vs nurture debate. What’s best? What will keep a child from becoming homeless, a dealer, needing an intervention involving his grandfather who used to take him fishing? If only I had… or If only I hadn’t…
I can’t even pretend to understand what Lynda Harrison Hatcher’s life must be like. Daughter of an alcoholic? Not the same. Aunt to a young man in prison for five years for dealing and possessing guns? Nope. It has to be a whole different level of hell when it is a child. And you are not in control and you can’t fix it.
While looking for a definition of courage, I came across this–
“We take so much of our strength and resilience for granted. Courage isn’t about being a battle-ready soldier; some days there is courage in saying, “tomorrow is another day”. We show courage on a daily basis because our lives and the lives of those we love matter to us. When we feel deeply passionate about something, we find courage easily — for example we find superhuman strength to protect our children. So let us find that same passion and courage for ourselves, trusting that whatever our circumstances are right now (and regardless of whether we feel courageous), we can find a valuable seam of courage if we dig just below the surface.” –Rebecca Perkins, The Real Definition of Courage
I have nothing to offer. No advice. Just admiration for Ms. Hatcher. I would like to thank her from the bottom of my heart for having the courage write this book. Anything that I choose to read now will pale in comparison, I’m afraid.
Son #2 has sent me a couple of adorable photos lately of his and his GF’s pets. Need some cuteness? Well, I have some for you…
Meet Charlotte, Charlie for short. She was a stray in Charlotte where Son #2 lived for 2 years. And where he met GF.
“She is either very sweet and loving or possessed by a spawn of hell. Not much of an in between yet, Mom.”
I guffawed. Thank you for making me laugh, Son #2.
One more cute photo. Of Couper and Charlie. What must Couper be thinking?
I don’t know about you, but I need a recipe for comfort food. Mac and cheese is my go-to favorite. This recipe has been on the blog before, in a 2015 post about resiliency.
Comforting Mac & Cheese
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar or a mixture of cheddar and Monterey Jack)
Salt, pepper (black or white), ground mustard or Texas Pete sauce can be added. Or a combination of all. Today, I decided to add bacon that had been cooked to crispy and then drained on paper towels.
Cook macaroni in salted, boiling water until it is al dente (for small elbows, about 9 minutes).
Drain, rinse, and set aside.
Melt butter in large pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and combine well. Cook for about a minute to remove the flour taste. Gradually add milk and continue to whisk. Cook until the mixture thickens into a creamy roux. Add seasonings and whisk well. Remove from heat.
Add 2-1/2 cups of the cheese and stir until melted and combined.
Put macaroni into a buttered baking pan. (I cooked the bacon in the cast iron pan and left some of the drippings in for flavor, so I didn’t need to butter the pan.) Pour cheese sauce over the macaroni and stir well. (I added the crumbled bacon at this point, reserving some for the top.)
Top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. (My grandmother always topped hers with bread crumbs or crushed crackers.)
Bake in pre-heated 350˚F oven for 20-25 minutes, until cheese is bubbling.
Bon appétit, Lynda. I have so much respect for you and the lessons you have learned and are trying to pass on to the rest of us. May you find peace and self-love. Thank you. Be courageous, mes amis. Seek help and find even just one or two friends who get it and will always be there for you. Everyone needs their own Book Club. And I think that this book is definitely worth reading, whether you are mothering an addict or not.