My friend has a daughter she loves but doesn’t like. This daughter has “walked backwards” all of her life. She graduated from high school with good grades in only the subjects she liked. She did get lucky and go to college where she stayed for two weeks, then left because “there was nobody there who was like her”. She got a job in an advertising agency but “in her heart she didn’t believe in advertising, it was too corrupt and competitive” and “served no good purpose”.
So she moved back home and went to work at McDonald’s, where she thrived and was promoted and got an apartment, (with a lot of financial help from her Mom and Dad), but at least she seemed to be on her way to a life of some kind.
She had boyfriends, but none of them shared her beliefs in protecting the earth, in not eating dead animals, and in not giving your life to a corporation. So she didn’t get married. She had no children. She did once win some money at a fair and took a trip overseas. But when she came back she gave up her apartment and moved to her mother’s back yard and lived in a tent. She didn’t bother to try to find another job. It was her belief that the simpler you lived, the fewer resources you used. She became a pagan. And a vegan.
Of course she did come into the house for meals and to use the bathroom. She never washed her clothes, she always wore the same thing, a gray tee-shirt, a pair of faded denim overalls, and a knit hat. When her Mom told her right out that she stank, she would take her nicked and dinged childhood bike and go down to the river and wash up. Sometimes she went in an ancient gray robe and her knit hat so that she could wash her tee-shirt and overalls and hang them on bushes to dry.
This has been very hard on my friend, who has followed the rules and done her best and raised a perfectly normal son and a really strange daughter. Neighbors don’t like the tent in their neighborhood. They don’t like seeing the daughter in her gray robe pedaling her old bike down to the river, although they are glad she’s cleaning up for a change. They all like her Mom but none of them like the daughter, which means that her Mom has to always come up with some sensible explanation of why she’s singing so loud in her tent or taking a possum for a pet that she lets to roam during the days because it’s a free spirit.
Of course there has been a plethora of psychiatrists and priests and counselors over the years. My friend is a good mother. But it makes me sad to see her reduced to just plain out crying.
© 2011 Just Lynne - 5/2/11