My multiple personalities are all named Grace. I aspire to be like Grace Kelly the Princess of Monaco, regal and respected. But most days I am more like Gracie Allen, the comedienne wife of George Burns. Her greatest strength was playing the ditz, a role I relish. And days that I pull on my black leather chaps and wrap my arms 'round my husband to cruise on the Harley, I feel like Grace Slick, female rocker and all around bad-mamma-jamma.

Friday, October 22, 2004

My Original Grace

There is a fourth "Grace" in the personality amalgam I'm creating. Actually, she is the first.

My mother, G. Marilyn (Bloom) O'Data, celebrated her birthday last week. She has gone by "Marilyn" her entire life. But her first name is actually "Grace," named after our home church, Grace Evangelical Lutheran.

Ironically, she began to loathe her first name when classmates in grade school teased her about Gracie Allen. They would repeat the closing line "Say goodnight, Gracie" and infer that my mother was as airheaded as the character Gracie Allen portrayed. (Read earlier blog for the real deal on Allen's intelligent portrayal and why I hold her in great esteem.) Of course, also ironically, "Marilyn" would later have its own meaning, wouldn't it?

My mother is the epitome of graciousness. She is sacrificial in her care for others. More than simply taking the steak that falls from the grill and onto the grass, she consisently puts others' needs first. There have been times that her good intentions and concern have been misunderstood as controlling; it cuts to the bone to feel her hurt as she is bewildered by those who misinterpret her actions.

In my early 20s, I was one of those who misunderstood her servant's heart. I am a strong combination of both of my parents, and the part of my father that is independent and self-reliant viewed her advice and concern as intrusive. I am overjoyed to say that now I understand her better and appreciate her more. I aspire to be as loving in service to Christ and family as she is.

We have taken several road trips together. What a laugh riot! I remember one particular trip to Chicago about 15 years ago. As we drove through the first toll booth in Ohio, I prepared to pay the toll and navigated the traffic and lanes. She began to cry. "I am so proud that I have a daughter who knows how to do this and isn't afraid," she said through tears. My mother has always been afraid to drive more than about a 15 mile radius around our house. It has been debilitating and restricting on her life. I have not taken my independence for granted since that talk.

I remember another of the conversations on that trip. We talked about a manner of her speech which was grating on me at that time (in my early 20s). She had a tendency to speak in plurals. "We don't like to garden"..."We put toilet paper rolls on with the paper going under"..."We like ceilings painted white." It seemed as though anytime she had an opinion she would use the plural to boost her argument. I felt that her assumption of my agreement was an assault on my indepenndence. "You don't speak for me!" I would scream inaudibly, inside my own head. She was a bit shocked to find that she talked in plurals. She had never noticed it, but she thought perhaps she picked it up from her mother as she began to think about it.

As I have matured and become more confident in my identity as being separate from my mother's, I stopped noticing whether or not she speaks in plurals. I have come full circle from being her clone, to rebelling against the assumption that we are the same, to embracing the part of me that is exactly like her. (Sounds like a "Cathy" cartoon.) Afterall, she embodies many of the qualities of the kind of woman I hope to become, so why not hold fast to that inheritance?

My original and best role model. My mother, Grace.


  • At 2:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey, my mother's name is Marilyn too.


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