Most times when I think about my past, I’m always brought back to the time when my whole world just stopped. May 2, 1981, 6:30 p.m. to be exact. And at 6:31 p.m., when it all started up again, I was 15 years old, and a motherless child.
I am fully aware that I am not the first human who never knew her father, whose single mother died young, and then was left in the hands of someone who just couldn’t hold all the weight. I know there are far too many of us. But, I am the one who, through my pain, discovered my poetry. My words offer a chance to see into me. My story has scars, it may scare some people, and it may make many people uncomfortable. These words on paper helped me discover that no matter what the reaction, it’s ok to remember and give your memory a voice.
I remember even though I knew she had stopped breathing,
I still put my finger under her nose, I knew, for the last time.
Two weeks in a coma and now, there was no air.
I remember walking quietly into the little pink bathroom and letting the giggle leave.
Was laughing just a nervous reaction? Or did part of my sanity just escape from my lips?
I remember getting up and just running.
Thinking only–where am I going to go?
I remember knowing that if I go back into that house,
I do not belong.
I remember watching them lift her out of the bed.
I remember watching them place her on the stretcher.
I remember watching them cover her up.
I remember them leaving with her and not me.
I remember I was 15, and my mother was gone, forever.
I remember now I have to live with all I can’t remember.
Registration Number TXu 2-306-672
I am usually the first one on the dance floor. I can walk into a room and start up a conversation whether I know people or not. Within 10 minutes of meeting new people, most times I spill the tea that my father left in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve and never came back when I was 3, or how my mother died when I was 15. Or what happened to me after my mother’s death. So I admit it, because it’s true, I’m a bit dramatic.
However, this day, Sunday, July 24, 2022 falls into the category more on my husbands speed, quiet and calm. He and I first did some yard work, then some house work, and then we decided to go out and get a late lunch and a cocktail or two.
We live in Frederick, Maryland for the past 21 years. Frederick is a quaint town with a charming downtown. Frederick downtown is packed with fabulous restaurants and shops, and Sean and I have visited them all. Our new favorite spot to go eat has been Magoo’s Pub & Eatery, and this is where this story starts.
Frederick, MD along with the rest of the world, has been experiencing a serious heat wave the past few days. It has hovered near 100 degrees. This Sunday it was in the high 90’s and the air was still and thick. I put on an adorable light blue sun dress, hair up, some silver hoops, white flips, and off we went. We parked down by the creek so we could take the nice walk to the restaurant. I noticed right away, that we couldn’t even buy a breeze. It was hot.
When we got to Magoo’s, I felt sweaty, but nothing too bad. As soon as we walked in, I forgot how sweaty I was and I was happy to be there. Magoo’s is small, but has a really cool vibe. Sean and I love to sit at the bar. The bartender was very friendly and we ordered waters and our drinks. I got a margarita on the rocks and Sean got a beer. We placed our food order and begin to enjoy our Sunday spontaneous date. Our conversation was flowing, and I was already telling the bartender about my new blog. See, I can talk to anyone! The appetizers came out, and we continued to chat. Sean and I talked like we always do. We’ve been together for 25 years, married for 23, and we still enjoy dating each other. When our meals came out, I was done with the first margarita, so I ordered another. I ordered their salmon burger. It’s delicious. It has thinly sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, and red onions on it. Spectacular. Couple bites in though, I started to worry. I became aware of the back of my thighs. Such a strange feeling. They felt clammy. We at this point have been at the restaurant for over 30 minutes, and I am curious as to why I still am feeling sweaty.
I told you about my adorable dress, and I thought, let me stand up for a minute. My thought was I don’t want to have my dress get all wrinkled or god forbid wet from my sweat. As I stood up, I knew it was about to become dramatic!
My face felt clammy and my eyes, they felt strange. I looked at Sean and he had that look like – ok, here we go. I told him “I feel a little funny”. He stood up and I just gently placed my forehead on his chest. As I leaned into Sean, things got worse.
There have been a handful of times where I’ve found myself in this fainting situation. It’s not a regular thing, but it happens more then it should. This time it sprung up on me fast. The only thing I remember next is having a straw by my mouth and someone other then Sean saying “take a sip of this”. This next sentence is just what Sean told me. He said I fainted, and he was holding me up when the owner of Magoo’s caught a glimpse of us and said “Is she ok?” Sean said “No”. She said “Is she diabetic?” Sean said “No”. So Jennifer came over quickly with a cup filled with regular Coke, which is sort of funny because I like Pepsi. I was aware of the two of them, so I knew I was coming back around. The sips of Coke had made me feel better. I continued to slowly sip the Coke and felt all the eyes on me. The bartender said to me that she thought I was just hugging Sean. I guess I have learned to faint inconspicuously.
Everyone was so kind to me afterwards. Making sure I was ok and offering all the reasons why this could happen to anyone. After a while, Sean paid our bill, took my hand, and we walked outside. He said to me as we walked back to our car, “I should have known to get you something to drink.” I think he and I learned especially during a heat wave, I probably should drink way more water, not drink my first cocktail with no food, and park closer to the restaurant.
I hope if nothing else from reading this post you have learned that if you are ever in Frederick, Maryland or its surrounding areas, please stop by https:magoosfrederick.com because at Magoo’s Pub & Eatery, they are serving up kindness.
“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
― Sylvia Plath
Guts. That’s what this is taking. Guts.
I have a fabulous way of visualizing all of my next steps. I can clearly see how I want something to go, how it should go, and how it will go. I see it. In full color. The thing I’ve always struggled with is actually doing the steps. The thought of someone not liking my work would be all it would take for me to stall. I couldn’t muster up the guts to put into action what I so clearly saw in my head. I will give a quick example. I wrote a children’s story when I was 28, way back in 1993. Yep….29 years ago. I love it. It’s a wonderful story that I am so incredibly proud of. Yet even though I’ve made countless New Year’s resolutions that this would be the year that I would, at the very least, copyright the story, it never happened. It always seemed easy enough when I thought about it and made my plan, but I just never had the guts to do it.
Finally, I have gotten to the point in my life where I simply do not place so much emphasis on what others think of my writing. Admittedly, this is new territory for me, but losing the weight of other peoples opinions of me and my work, has been very freeing. While there are still times I get in my own way, I am happy and proud to say that I have now in my possession the copyright for my unpublished story, Marvin the Mouse In Search Of The Perfect Christmas Present. I recognize this is one small step, and may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but I had the guts to go on to the next step; which is more then I can say for my past self. Another added bonus is that it has stirred up some more guts!
I decided to start (again) this blog to share my writing with everyone. I know I am ready for it to come with whatever it comes with. I am excited for it all because my story, my thoughts, my feelings, and my writings really need a place to go. They deserve more then just me. In this heavy social media world we all live in, most of us have become somewhat programmed to place value on our work, photos, experiences, and such by the number of “likes” we receive on the platform we selected to share those moments on. I realize that I just want to experience as much as I can. I am in control of most of that. The joy I get from writing fills me to the brim. If someone likes it, well that’s an added bonus because I want my words to be helpful, but my focus is to go for more and show up with guts.
Back in the day, I used to always say “I want to be a famous writer”. Seems strange at 56 to have such an easy time admitting just how ridiculous that makes me feel now. What I want now is to live and enjoy the process. I want to be honest. I want to be brave. I want be present with my past, present, and future. I want to speak my truth. I want to be real with my feelings, words, and even my worry. I want others to have that same freedom. Most of all, I just want to write.
I’m proud of myself. I am looking forward to this journey with guts and grace, and I hope that I will meet some new friends along the way.
The last time I sat down to write on this blog was way back in 2015. It’s unbelievable to me how 7 years can pass so quickly? It feels like my life has been this constant feeling of there’s not enough time and time moves so fast to time feeling like it is dragging, and I’m not sure what to do with all of my time. I, like most people, have my phone in my hand a larger portion of my day then I should. I randomly check my multiple social media sites, and I often stumble upon some delicious recipes and some thought provoking quotes that I save. Most go into my favorites folder and there they stay. Every once in a while one quote will stop me in my tracks and change me. I immediately know that I will have a lifelong reaction to the words I just read. This happened to me just the other day while mindlessly looking through Facebook, the site Tiny Buddha popped up, and I read the following:
“It’s a unique brand of pain when other people remember a deceased person for lots of positive qualities that you yourself never got to see. It’s even more painful when that person was your parent.”
It’s amazing to me how a quote on Facebook can awaken the feelings that I have always had about my mother, but never had the ability to string my feelings into words to make this much sense. I sit here tonight a 56 year old happily married mom of 2 incredible young men who has been trying to find the words to express to every single person in my life how it feels, almost 41 years later, to know that my mother was not the person to me that her other children and people in her life remember.
I didn’t get the version of her that they got. I can say for absolute that their memories of her are their versions of the relationship they shared, yet when I express my memories, I am often shut down with comments like “she was a wonderful mother”, “she was my best friend”, and “she gave her all to her children”. All of those would never be the words I would choose to define the mother daughter relationship she and I shared. Granted I was 15 when she died and she was only 40, there is a whole story there – but staying on this quote for this conversation, I really felt a weight lifted to finally have read the words that expressed the real pain the memory of my mother always covers me with.
I vividly remember she was in so much pain from the cancer that was killing her, and she spent many, many days in bed. There she often stayed with her other children right after she would tell me to go out and play. She never asked me to stay bedside with her. I went outside, every time. I went to go play with my friends, the people who wanted me around. Of course this time span for me was from age 13 through 15, which are very important molding years for young girls. Whether she knew it or not, each time she allowed me to walk out of that bedroom the hurt grew. I learned to begin the distancing dance, and I have been doing it every day since.
Instead of having a mama who taught me tenderness and togetherness, my mom’s decision to let me go – out to play – taught me that I am ultimately alone and it taught me how to keep people at arms length. I got her message, and I grew with that blueprint. It wasn’t until I was well into my 30’s that my husband and my babies taught me that I have 3 people who want me around every single day.
I rarely look back to my mom and my memories of her for guidance on how to parent, instead I take my memories of her and my relationship and know that she taught me what not to do. I have soaked up every single second I have with my children. They are the best gifts I have every received, equally. I could never imagine my asking one of them to stay while shooing the other one away, for whatever reasons. I have days where time goes slow and others where it rushes by, but each and every day I have the one gift my mother did give me, my life. My life is filled with love for my little family. I love those 3 men with all my heart and soul, and I let them know multiple times a day that they are loved by me forever and always.
Welcome to my blog! I love the name of the site…..free to be me. The jpc attached to the blog name is me: Jacquelyn Patricia Commander. I sit here today 56 years young, and since I was a girl of 15, I have always daydreamed about becoming a writer. Since now I find myself feeling semi-comfortable with me, and time feels like it’s running a race, I have decided to be brave enough to give myself the gift of telling some of my story.
I love that my story has bruises and holes. Some of my memories are beautifully painful and some are so wonderful they almost make you lose your breath. I love them all, even the ones I cannot completely remember.
My hope is that I can continue to write and lean into the possibility that I am indeed, a writer!
I would love the words that I place on this blog to mean something to someone, or touch someone in such a way that tomorrow will be better for them. I know that words and music have done that for me. The lost and down deep sad little 15 year old girl that I still feel sometimes has seen many tomorrows thanks to words on paper.
I hope you enjoy and always remember to BE.