Friday, June 11, 2010
Advisors and Advisees
I remember one very good piece of advice that I received from my Aunt Eloise in 1970. My ex and I had decided to have another baby. I had lost two children to adoption, and we had our wonderful little daughter, but I wanted one more experience of becoming a mother. I was also still reeling from the unexpected and early death of my mother, and nothing is more life-affirming than pregnancy and birth.
To say that we were not financially prepared would be an understatement, but we went with the rule that there was always room for one more and I went to my doctor and had my IUD removed. My family, for the most part, was aghast. How on earth, when we were struggling to pay our bills, did we think we could afford another child. I reasoned that, if everyone waited to have a child until all things were perfect, very few children would be born. As my belly grew rounder, I could hear the mutters and see the heads shaking and the heavy sighs whenever the family got together. I spent hours trying to justify our decision to my family and to my ex's as well.
On one occasion, I was alone in my grandmother's kitchen when Aunt Eloise walked in. She came up to me and said that she had a crib my cousin had used if I wanted it and we made arrangements to go get it. Then she said something that has stuck with me all these some 40 years. "Robin," she said, "don't waste your time trying to convince anyone else that what you are doing is right. If you feel, in your heart, that it is the right thing to do, then do it and let the rest of the world stew in their juices." WOW. That was a light-bulb moment for me. I didn't HAVE to explain myself to anyone. It was our decision and we would bear the rewards and the consequences and no one else had a say in the matter. Sam was born on January 15, 1971 and I named him after my late, beloved, paternal grandfather. He's been a joy and he's been a trial but I am so glad that he IS.
The same thing happened when Rocky, our little RatCha, developed a Mast Cell Cancer Grade II tumor. We didn't know, until after our vet had removed it and had it biopsied, what it was. The news sent us into a tailspin. Because there were clean margins everywhere except on the underside (he couldn't cut any deeper without cutting into Rocky's urethra), and Rocky's age (7), he advised that we seek the opinion of a veterinary oncologist, which we did. After reviewing the records, Dr. Lurie advised a course of radiation and tests to make sure the Mast Cells had not spread. After much debating and thought, my husband and I gave the go-ahead.
Well, immediately, especially from MY family, we started getting some negative feed-back. "It costs so much and you two are retired," and "maybe it's time to let him go..all you've had is vet bills since you got him" and other like comments. What IS it with these people? I am 64 and my husband is 70. Since when have we lost the capability of making these decisions for ourselves? I remembered Aunt Eloise (who, bless her, is now in a home with Alzheimer's) and her words to me that day in Grandma's kitchen. Rocky needed the best shot we could give him so it was full steam ahead.
This is an object lesson in following your own heart and best judgement and letting what others say roll off your back. Since the inception of the movement to bring attention to the EMS/BSE, we have had people, including other mothers, demanding that we explain ourselves, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. We are doing what we think is the right thing to do. We don't have to explain ourselves or justify ourselves. We are not taking a thing away from anyone else. We are just doing what we know is right for us. We have grown tired of being required to justify our existence. And, according to the wisdom of Aunt Eloise, we don't have to.
Meanwhile, we are writing, talking, reading and planning and doing all we can to bring attention to a time when casual cruelty against young women was not only allowed, but legal...to a time when things were very different from what they were even a decade or two later. People age and pass on, but, if they have recorded important history, then that history lives on. Just like the skewed history of the American past has been researched and studied under the light of truth, so, we feel, will the EMS and all the pain it caused us and our children.
The hypocricy and propaganda of the past deserves a bit of outing. So, Aunt Eloise, thanks for the reminder. I know it's the right thing to do.