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Washing My Past Away
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Why would I want to wash all of my past away?

Yes, there were bad times and even “dark times,” and there was betrayal and loss, financial struggles, even threats of homelessness. The struggles didn’t end for a long time as a single mom with four kids. This was after the battle I had to fight when I was a teenager because of the evil stepfather who cast a spell on all of us until I broke it wide open. Of course, that’s something I’d rather forget, but it still remains in my subconscious mind, and sometimes even my conscious mind.

But everything that happened to me, whether it was good or bad, makes me who I am today as a 64-year-old woman with four grown kids (now ages 40, 38, 37, and 29) and three grandkids. I can’t trade that for anything in the world, and I don’t want to forget raising my kids, and all those good times mixed in with the bad times, the struggles, the heartbreak. Why would I want to forget my mom and dad — who are gone now? I want to remember them always. I want to remember everything whether it was good or bad. I don’t want to wash my past away.

Sometimes my boyfriend and I talk and he seems to think the best course of action is, “out of sight, out of mind,” at least that’s what I hear. Well, you’re in Oregon now and your grandkids are in California. Why does that matter? Why should I see them any less? I can’t just wash away my feelings for them or for my kids or any of it. I don’t want to.

Also, as writers, we write about stuff that happened in the past. I mean, we can’t write about future stuff because we don’t know what’s going to happen and anything we write, whether it’s good or bad, is fodder for a good story.

Sometimes I see bits and pieces of the past, almost like a movie playing in my head. Playing in Golden Gate Park with my friends while Grateful Dead live music plays from a makeshift stage, the idyllic times we had has kids running around the neighborhood and beyond and all over Golden Gate Park which was our giant backyard The freedom we had, the adventures we had, even doing dangerous stuff like climbing up and down slippery rocks and cliffs by the ocean and Land’s End or running up and down wooden planks on scaffoldings in front of buildings, crazy stuff. But then there were the scary and bad times which of course I’d rather forget, but I can’t because it’s mixed in with the good times, and I can’t rewrite that unless I write fiction, which I’ve also done.

NO, I don’t want to forget any of it. I want to remember it all, hear my mother’s voice though she’s been gone 24 years now, remember her, because, with all of her faults, she was a badass warrior queen in my mind, and when I was a kid, I thought she was magical because she was constantly surrounded by shrouds of smoke (actually she was a chain smoker), but in a way she was magical. She read more than anyone I knew in my life and she could tell stories. It wasn’t until a couple of years after she passed away at age 64 that my Irish Uncle Jim said, “Your mother had the ability to rewrite history!” The truth was, we never knew which stories were actually true and which weren’t. And to this day, I can’t tell you for sure which ones are true. I can just remember at least some of the stories, but there were too many to remember them all. I want to remember them all. I don’t want to forget or wash any of that away.

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