Something My Mother Told Me: life, love,death, parenting, fame, children, etc.

by RQ on January 1, 2013

By Doris Questel

Approximately 1964

Written in pencil on 3 sheets of 12” x 18” sketch paper, both sides, with no corrections.

Dear Children,

I write this as I am approaching the age of 39. This is the age when my mother died. At the time I was 19, and 39 seemed centuries away. I have not the slightest intention of leaving you for still” many centuries, if God will agree.

If, however this were to be the midnight of my life, I would like to tell you certain things. I mentioned God, and truly I don’t know if I believe in him or not. I choose to think I do. When I was your age I thought I saw him in the shape of a cloud, and now I think it again, in rather a different way. For surely there is such beauty in a cloud, such momentary grandeur that it may well be a Godly thing. There is only one thing that remains constant to me. That is beauty. I hope that one day you can feel the exhilaration of a beautiful picture, a beautiful moment, a beautiful thing. Now beauty, my dear boys, is not always pretty. It is very often ugly. But it is pure. This brings me to another important point. To be able to judge the pure from the impure, the true from the fake, you must first be able to be true to yourself. This takes a very long time. When it does a new world opens within you and you are free from the pangs of guilt, and remorse. This truth, of which I speak, is a kind of Godliness again. It is never our intention to hurt, but if one day the truth in yourself causes hurt to someone else, think twice. And if after you have wrangled with your conscience, and are sure you are not creating a greater lie with in yourself, then, and only then dare you cause pain.

Although you will find this idea not original with me, truth and beauty (and a reasonable amount of cleanliness!) are indeed God and Godliness.

There is a classic poem, and the line that has stayed with me all through the years is “The world is too much with us, late and soon”. Often when I feel I am being caught up in the rat race of life I think of this line. For a brief moment I reflect. This is wonderful for as long as we breathe, we want. We want more creature comforts, we want more possessions, we want more and more and better and better until the things e lack can make us flounder like a drowning man in a sea of discontent. Stop and reflect and leave the world outside and see what you have! Can owning a forest make you appreciate a leaf better? My grand father used to say “can a man eat more than three meals a day, or wear more than one suit of clothes at a time. This of course is greatly simplified, but in essence it is true the world is highly competitive, so I do not wish that you do not recognize this fact. The trick is, to recognize it early and ignore it. The trick dear boys, is to give or do the best, the very best within you for your own sake, and your own pride. And it must follow, that the world will come to you. Another truth is that there is very little best in the world. This is not because many do not have the ability or the capacity; they simply do not work up to their full measure. This I find in looking back is a sin. This should be the eleventh commandment” do not waste your time or yourselves” There is so much success in our world today and it is so taken for granted, that we have overlooked the fact that mediocrity reigns. Today the supreme effort is not required to subsist, so people are willing to accept less than their best and find overwhelming joy in the common denominator.

When I was nineteen I thought that if I should not be famous, I surely would die. In each of us is something special and when we are very young we say to the world” look at me, notice me, I insist that you notice me.” Well my dears, we all have this feeling. I think effort, pride in a job and honesty are what make the difference. While it is not necessary to happiness to be world famous, to have a feeling of well being in your own world is necessary.

I want also to tell you about growing pains. My telling you will make you aware of them, and perhaps, they will be less frightening when they come. I started at a very early age, almost I’d say as an infant because I never had the security of a home and two parents and knowing that tomorrow will e fun. I think that is all the more reason to prepare you. It is also the reason I feel I can write this to you. I am full grown inside. This is a slow painful process, especially when you are in your teens. At that time most things are either black or white, right or wrong. You will be either high or low emotionally.  Just as a child can cry one minute and laugh the next, so you will feel inside. Everyone seems to feel that when you grow up you should stop crying. Well my dears, the tears inside have a much more acrid effect than those on the outside. These are the ones that shape the man. You come from parents who may at time vacillate from yes to no , and no to yes, but in our abilities to wrestle with inner battles we are victorious. Medals and awards are not given for this victory, only a word is used to separate the men from the boys. That word is maturity. This is a big word. You can not buy it or pretend it or read about it. It has to be the real thing. Then you emerge from the emotional chaos and you know as surely as you know you have grown to your full physical height, that you can handle yourself like a man. The trend today is not always to fight this conflict within yourself. It has become rather common to seek aid in some form of therapy. My feelings on this are very strong and definite. Therapy, analysis, confession are absolutely the greatest boon to mankind since the wheel. It can also be blight. If when you grow up you decide to hate us, hate us in truth, for the resentments that may have been built up, or the disillusionment that sometimes come to children about their parents (I pray this will not be so.) Do not however hate us to cover up your own inadequacies. Aside from the fact that it will hurt us deeply, it will hurt you more when you awaken to the truth.

Being parents, I feel does not entitle us to blind love. If parents hurt a child this is a double hurt, and most times unhealable. We will try our best not to let this happen. I do not believe that parents and love are synonymous. I hope we will be worthy of you love and respect when you are adults.


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