Sunday, April 01, 2007


Prema asked yesterday if I remember my family and my childhood as pure.

The best I can answer is yes and no.

Yes, our family was built on pure love--no question that our parents loved each other, no question that they loved us. No question they did the very best they knew how, every day.

No, they were not perfect people and so not perfect parents. We were not perfect kids. At 27, my mom found herself living with three small children in a town where she didn't know a soul and her nearest friend or relative was 8 or 9 hours away. Predictably, she was depressed before we knew what that was. Dad worked too much. My adolescent storms coincided with Mom's menopausal storms. The results were painful if not calamitous.

But my mom and my sister and one of her daughters and I will spend this afternoon making colorful, spring-y aprons, one for each of the women of our family plus my friend Barb. We plan to wrap them identically, mix them up, and hand them out when all of us go to dinner and an Anne Lamott reading this Thursday. We'll unwrap the aprons, trade, bargain, and haggle to get the ones we really wanted, and laugh until we're almost sick. We'll wear our aprons when we make and decorate cookies and cupcakes for Easter dinner, which we'll have together by the pond in my back yard.

Maybe love trumps our human imperfections, our mistakes, our personal issues. All I know for sure is that after everything is said and done, we choose to spend precious free afternoons hanging out together, playing with colorful fabrics or baking or gardening.

Maybe pure, like perfect, is highly over-rated and unattainable. And maybe that doesn't matter because, in spite of my family's individual and collective flaws, we still choose each other. Over and over again.


Deb said...

Your apron ritual sounds so much fun! Anne Lamott will be here on Tuesday - I'll think of you as I'm laughing with her.

Your comment on purity & perfection makes me think of the quilting tradition of including an imperfection on purpose. (I never seem to have to do this on purpose.) The imperfection adds character and is a nod to the reality that only God is perfect.

Thank you for this gift of joy on a Sunday morning.

Love you.

kario said...

Oh, Jerri, I love this! Purity comes at a huge price, I think. Pure means never experiencing humanity -not being angry when someone screws up, not allowing mistakes to happen that might lead to something even better or some new revelation about another person. No matter who your "family" is (biological, adopted, chosen), this is the real joy of it - choosing and being chosen again and again. My heart is full. Thank you!

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Sounds like the most functional family I know!

mamatulip said...

This is a beautiful post. :)

Jenny Rough said...

Awww, I love this!

Prema said...

Let's all redine pure, and take it from this post! Pure (to me) is about a balance of light and dark, where that dance becomes something more than tolerable, something beautiful. Sometimes too much this, sometimes too much that, but in the end, balance. Purity.

I love your story, it sounds incredible actually. I will be with you at the Anne Lamott reading - I've been devouring her new book and laughing and weeping. Love her so much.

One day I will be in your backyard at at that table to laugh with all you lovely women.

Stacy said...

Hey, where is Anne Lamott reading? Funny, I just sent you an email with some Lamott advice in it.
You are a big person with a pure forgiving heart. I'd trade my mother for the elementary art school teacher or her pet wolf for that matter.

Amber said...

Maybe pure, like perfect, is highly over-rated and unattainable. And maybe that doesn't matter because, in spite of my family's individual and collective flaws, we still choose each other. Over and over again."--

This is good. And it gives me hope that maybe my kids won't need that much therapy when I done with them ;)


Kim said...

I think this post and this scene of women together on Easter is purely wonderful!

holly said...

Love this post and all the different thoughts on pure and on balance.

Went to see Anne LaMott last night. Fanstastic. Of Course! HAve fun tomorrow!

Ziji Wangmo said...

This is great - and I LOVE the aprons!
There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to relationships. It takes grit and grime to make a beautiful apron!!! I love this post

Go Mama said...

That's the best kind of love there is!

Nancy said...

Anne Lamott says "Perfectionism means that you try desperately not to leave so much mess to clean up. But clutter and mess mean that life is being lived." She also said that "perfect means shallow and unreal and fatally uninteresting."

Sounds to me like you have life and deep and interesting pure and simple in your family story.

Thank you for writing!

Anonymous said...

It just goes to show that you don't need the newest DVD, biggest tv or video game to have the most perfect family memory. What a very special time and a perfect family memory and tradition. Love this and appreciate you sharing! Wish Anne Lamott would come near me to read!