Categories
Daily Prompt Gifts Make Love Uncategorized

Time to Tell The Rest Of The Story

Two years ago I wrote a poem, Torn, Tattered Hearts, and now it’s time to tell about it.

I was the kid that didn’t have any friends, the one that ate alone, that was bullied and shunned, and made fun of at every chance.

My hearing impairment made me easy pickings and my glasses earned me the name, “Four Eyes”.

Kids would gang up on me and grab my glasses and toss them back and forth while I would try to catch them. I never could.

Both lunch and recess were like a living nightmare that I dreaded with every fiber of my being.

I finally learned a way to escape… When the bell rang for lunch and all the other kids got in line for lunch, I would slip out the back door, walk as fast as I could outside and climb up the tree which allowed me to watch everyone when they finished eating and came outside to play.

I would perch my sack lunch on the branches and eat as quickly as possible, drinking the colas that Mema always wrapped in foil. I was safe in the trees and when the bell rang for classes to resume, I would scurry down and go in the back door and beat my classmates back to our room.

I was always on guard, yet a part of me was still hopeful that I would some day have friends.

Then one day, I was asked by my teacher to take the attendance cards to the office.

While I was gone, the 6th grade teacher told the class to stop being mean to me because I ‘couldn’t “help” being hard of “hearing , and that they should “feel sorry” for me and be nicer. She also told them to be sure to include me in the upcoming Valentine card exchange, because it wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t get any cards.

When I returned, I noticed the vibe in the class seemed different and it made me nervous.

When the bell rang for lunch, one of the popular girls came up to me and asked me to sit at her table with her and her friends. I said, “No,” and started to walk towards the back door when my teacher stopped me and told me that I couldn’t go out that way and to give the girls a chance because they all wanted to get to know me.

Something just didn’t feel right, but I went ahead and followed them to the table.

It was a few days before Valentine’s and the girls were talking about which boys they thought were cute, and which boys liked who… Some girls were “going steady” and they nudged me and said, “maybe a boy would like you if you didn’t wear glasses…. or if you could hear”

After a couple of days of having lunch with everyone, I began to think I finally had broke through and made some friends, so I was excited to tell my Mema that I wanted to buy Valentine cards and candy for all my new friends in my 6th grade class.

We went to the drug store and bought candy bars and cards and I carefully wrote the names of each classmate and taped the candy to the cards, signing my name with a flourish.

Valentine’s day came and the class party was to take the place of the last period.

There was cupcakes and colas for everyone on the table in front of the classroom. Each desk had a shoe box that we had decorated with construction paper and stickers during art class.

The teacher had everyone stand in a line and walk by each desk, placing cards into the slot in the boxes. I was so tickled when I saw that almost every one of my classmates stopped by my desk and placed cards in there. They were smiling and laughing and glancing at me and I felt a rush of emotions overwhelming me.

I had FRIENDS! I was getting Valentine’s cards! I was part of the group!

Finally, all the cards were passed out and we each sat at our desk and the teacher told us that we could open our shoe boxes and read the cards and eat our candy and cupcakes.

I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I took the lid off my box.

I smiled at them and opened it, happily grabbing a card out of the pile.

My heart sank as I read the words, tears filled my eyes and I bit down hard on the inside of my mouth to keep from sobbing.

On each and every card, in black Mark-So-Lot markers, my classmates had scrawled hurtful, ugly words.

“NOBODY LIKES YOU!”

“YOU’RE SO UGLY!”

“NO ONE WANTS YOU HERE!”

“I HATE YOU! ”

“DEAF AND DUMB! ”

” YOU’RE SO STUPID! ”

Every candy bar was broken, the candy hearts were crushed into crumbs in the box, the lollipops were smashed.

In just seconds that felt like forever, I realized what had happened. I had been played the fool the whole time.

I quickly put the lid back on the box, slide it underneath my desk, and got out a notebook and begin writing. I kept my eyes on my paper, trying with all my might to control the tears that threatened to roll down my cheeks.

I held myself together, determined that they would not win this battle, too. I vowed that I would never again trust anyone, never again let down my guard and never again allow myself to be a victim.

When the bell rang, everyone rushed out and I saw one of the boys mouth to me,”I’m sorry, Jeanna,I had to do it.”

I shook my head and carried my Valentine’s box close to my chest, walked over to the trashcan and smashed it down, underneath the coke cans and cupcake wrappers and papers.

My teacher was busy picking up the decorations and didn’t notice what I had just done, but she smiled at me and said,”See, Jeanna’, you got Valentine’s just like everyone else… Happy Valentine’s day!”

I ducked out of the room and started to run to my Mema’s car.

Mema! My heart just sank … How could I tell her?! Mema had been so excited for me, buying full size candy bars for my new friends. She was smiling at me as I walked to the car and I just couldn’t bring myself to tell her what happened.

“Did you get Valentine’s?”

“Where is your box? ”

“What kind of candy did your friends give you?”

The mask came on, I am answered her, with a smile pasted on my face.

“I ate it in the classroom, it was so good… Lots of chocolate Hershey bars!”

“I was having so much fun that I spilled my coke on the box, but that’s okay because I had already read all the cards!”

” It was the best Valentine’s ever, Mema!”

As soon as we got home, I pretended to have an upset stomach from eating too much candy.

I went into my room, turned on my record player, put the earphones on and laid down on my bed and cried my heart out.

That Valentine’s was the one that left deep scars across my heart. It was one more deep, dark secret to keep, one more reason to wear a mask, another thing to be ashamed of, and one more reason to pretend I was not who I really was.

That’s the rest of the story of the torn and tattered hearts.

It’s taken me decades to finally become friends with anyone. It takes a very long time for me to let my guard down and to trust anyone, especially women.

But, once I do, once I feel known and loved, I will guard that friendship with all my heart. I know full well-too damn well-how much it means to have a real friend and to be one.

It means that you can finally take off the mask, and stop pretending. It means you don’t have to bite your lips to keep from letting your emotions show, it means sitting at a table together and feeling safe.

Torn and tattered hearts can be patched up and made beautiful again, it just takes time.

A lot of time.

I still wrestle with Valentine’s. It’s a day to work, to do for other people as a massage therapist,a friend,a mom, and a Jamma. I run around buying gifts, writing cards, getting candy and everything I need.

But, every now and then, I catch myself and the tears swell up in my eyes and I fight to erase the words that were scrawled across my heart in 6th grade.

♥️ Jeanna’ Mead

1.29.21…7 53 a.m

https://jeannasoul.com/2018/02/12/torntattered-hearts/

Yesterday… February 11.2021 I recieved a Valentine’s card from a long-time family friend, Cindy Kay. I used the card for the updated picture on the story. She has no idea how much her handmade cards mean to me. ❤️

Categories
Gifts

Grateful Heart – a story of gifts.

Christmas morning we gathered around the living room and exchanged presents.

My pile seemed to get bigger and bigger…and my daughter, Kateley, laughed and said, “Momma,you have the most presents of anyone.”

She was right.

Not just the ones wrapped in shiny paper and tucked into gift sacks.

I had a big pile of those but I also had the sweet, invisible gift of being known and loved by so many and of knowing and loving so many,too.

This year, though, I was especially touched by the gifts I received that showed me how well I was known, not just by my family but also by clients and friends.

One son gave me a big coffee mug etched with the words, “Begin each day with a grateful heart” and I laughed because I often tell him “thank you for being my son” and he’ll shake his head and say, “Yea,sure.” but his green eyes twinkle and he squeezes me so I know he feels that love.

He also gave me the softest blanket throw to cuddle up and read and watch movies with. That son,like me, seeks out the soft fabrics, the texture of things matters to both of us.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

My daughter told me before I opened my gift that Riven had chosen it…I knew then it would be something special.

I busted out laughing when I saw the pink flamingos houseshoes and then winked at my daughter for giving me pajamas to go with them.

I haven’t owned a pair of pajamas in probably 24 years. I prefer sleeping nude, going from a hot bath and barely drying off into cool sheets.

I’ve always kept a tank top and panties handy just in case. My Mema used to fuss at me for sleeping naked, telling me that if the house caught on fire, I’ll be standing outside “naked as a jay bird” and I would tease her back that nobody would be looking at me anyways, they would be watching the fire.

But a few days before Christmas, I had mentioned to my daughter that I probably should get a pair of pajamas soon….because I had been invited to a women’s sleepover and I didn’t have proper attire.

I was heard and I received.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Then 2 packages that clearly looked like canvases were placed in my hands.

One revealed the handprints of my Riven and Luke Everett created during time with their Granny.

The other was a picture of Greg and I dancing at the wedding of our son. Chase and his wife, Lacy, back in May.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

Tears sprang to my eyes again as I traced the images of us, gazing at our smiles,the way our eyes were locked on each other and the ease of our bodies.

Back when Greg and I started dating, I told him that loving me came with 3 rules.

1.Never smoke.

2. Never become obese.

3. Always dance.

He kept the first two easily and struggled in the beginning to learn to dance.

Mema took him under her wing and turned that “stiff as a board” guy into a smooth dancer that could take any woman out on the floor with ease.

Dancing was the one thing we did almost every weekend, meeting up with friends at local honky tonks for country music and dancing till the places closed down then getting breakfast at some 24 hour diner.

It was our thing and it was good.

But a few years ago, we stopped dancing…we started drifting apart and we just couldn’t connect- not on any other level, and certainly not the dance floor.

It was noticeable.

We danced well together still from habit and practice but there was no passion, no spontaneously, no laughter. Instead of making eye contact, we looked over each other’s shoulders, scanning the crowd, looking for other dance partners, smiling at strangers, sending off signals that we were clearly not quite connected with each other.

We made mistakes on the dance floor. Stumbled over each other’s feet.

Missed steps. Dropped hands. Fell out of sync.

We got angry and walked away leaving the other standing on the floor. Sometimes we would just grab another partner and show off, spinning around and doing elaborate moves with new partners. It was almost like we were trying to outdo the other.

This picture showed that the connection we had lost was back. It showed that sometimes the right song makes all the difference and if you keep on dancing, maybe, just maybe, it’ll turn into another dance….another chance.

Then, I opened the gift from my oldest son- the one that is deeply rooted in the old West and cowboy life- and found a beautiful fringed purse with a secret- a concealed handgun pocket.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

You see, I love leather fringed coats and I have two that were gifts from my Mema, both are over 20 years old and when I wear them, I feel her embrace around me….but I also feel the eyes of people looking at me.

“That coat gets too much attention…it’s so gaudy!”

Maybe it is..but it reminds me of shopping at Shepler’s and Lone Star Ranch Wear with my family, of saddles and horses, of my Aunt Jane and the Johnson way of life.

My gift from Greg was the last one I opened. He had taken Kateley shopping and together they had chosen my gift.

Black leggings, a soft pink sweater, black booties, a black jacket, and a boho leather bag.

Perfect. Absolutely perfect.

You see, that’s another history story. My Mom and Mema spoiled me rotten, not just at Christmas but all the time and one of the things they always did shaped me into the woman I am.

You should always receive a whole new outfit to wear on Christmas day.

When my parents were living, we opened gifts on Christmas eve and I would receive so many outfits that both Mema and Momma would wait with anticipation to see which one I would show up wearing the next day.

I see gifts of clothing as gifts of knowing. It is a special intimacy to know the size and style of someone, to look at something and instinctively know.

“This is so perfect, absolutely perfect for them.”

Every year, I’ve received gifts from my clients that show how deeply our relationships have grown…from therapeutic sessions to a mutual kinship.

For the last three years, my clients have made sure I got new cowboy boots. I teased them that one bought the right boot, and the other bought the left, but it’s more than that.

I realize that, as I touch the bodies of these people, I’ve given them glimpses into my soul and they begin to understand me in ways that make me feel known and loved.

Books and calendars, journals, teas, chocolates, blankets, carved wooden bowls for oils, wine openers, paintings and gift cards have been placed in my hands and filled my heart.

Sometimes the gifts have made me feel as if I was the naked one. How could they know me so well when I’m the one touching them and not the other way around?

I have always accepted the gifts with gratitude but one time, I had to give a gift back. I’ve regretted that since then…but at the time, that turquoise,fringed jacket showed that I was known well by one and not by another.

It was absolutely perfect at the perfectly wrong time.

Like my Mema and Momma, I’m a giver of gifts. I love finding things as I’m out and about and knowing instinctively just who it would be perfect for.

I don’t wait for special occasions, for birthdays or holidays, although those do get honored.

Instead, like the women that raised me, I like to give unexpected little presents, ways of making those that share my life feel known and loved.

Sometimes, though, I have to catch myself and hold my horses. It’s one thing to know someone well enough to see something for them and want to get it…and it’s another thing to actually give it.

It could be absolutely perfect at the perfectly wrong time.

I’ve had to learn to give and receive with clarity and intention, to make sure my heart is in the right place, to give and receive with love, with respect and with understanding….the invisible gifts that matter just as much as those that are wrapped in shiny paper and tied with bows.

Giving gifts is an absolutely perfect way of showing a grateful heart..it’s also an absolutely perfect way to find out how well you are known and loved.

I will give.

I will receive.

And I will be grateful for both.

👣💗Jeanna’ Mead

6 33 a.m. 12-30-18

Www.jeannasoul.com