My Words

From Fool to Forgiveness

When she dies, I’m going to write a story about her. I made the threat a million times. I’d write it as a work of fiction to cover my ass, but it really doesn’t matter either way. If I were to write the drama, half-truths, and all out lies that followed along in my life with Ilene, most people would think I was writing some ill-conceived Housewives of Insert City Here, without the table flipping. If I’d given her an opportunity though, Ilene could have provided a bit of furniture flipping.

She was a fairy tale when I was young. A dark-haired pixie with a bright streak of mischief that dripped off her like flecks of our craft glitter. She was laughter and giggles, which are not the same thing, and she was acceptance. As long as you were one of the little ones, you only saw the sparkly side. She used me for an audience and in turn I did the same, copying my little kid poetry onto construction paper held together with brass chads and heart stickers, signed with a promise to add more as I wrote them, and colorful blank pages at the end to ensure I could.

That wasn’t the book I needed to write though. I wouldn’t have had to wait for her to die to just tell another story of another sweet grandmother. Nope. I needed to write about what happened when the magic wore off. I needed to write about the truth of aging out of her affection? No, not the right word. Aging out of her protection? Closer. I needed to write about growing up enough to see behind the curtain, to be included in her lies that others called stories. I wanted to write about a granddaughter betrayed.

When I sat down to write my fictionalized version of Ilene, to purge myself of the sooty taste left when the magic wears off, my heart wouldn’t let me. I started the book. I finished the book. Her character was abducted by aliens, as she was. Her character has a mishap with a stand mixer, as she did. Her character tells the lies that others allow to live next to the truths, as we all did. But when I wrote the imaginary me living in the new story, I had grown enough to realize the dark magic behind the chaos that was Ilene had a source, and that She that is Me on those pages finds a way to forgive.

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