It’s too easy. Remembering the complexities takes effort, and there’s plenty of other things in life to work at. Why spend the energy on knowing the difference between your idea of someone and the real thing? After all, the majority of people who will remember my mother – and there are a lot of them – will remember her for her kindness. She was a teacher, so she had plenty of opportunities to be the right voice at the right time. It is a pretty spectacular legacy. There is a lot of kindness in the world, it happens quietly, and I’m glad she was a contributor. She was a gifted educator, and she was the little nudge in the right direction for a lot of people. That’s a good thing, and maybe there’s no reason that shouldn’t be what she is forever and ever amen.
Then there is the other side.
My dad has a hard time remembering much that was good about the lady. Fifteen years after the divorce, he doesn’t remember her kindness. He remembers a woman for whom there was never enough. He remembers the woman who didn’t know she was loved unless everyone was on their knees, begging.
The woman wasn’t a saint.
She also had this disgusting habit of flossing her teeth in the living room and leaving the used floss on the arm of the sofa. And was surprised when I pointed out that this was gross.
The truth, as always, is somewhere in-between sainthood and damnation. She did the best she could. Sometimes that was rotten. Sometimes it was extraordinary. But she was bound by her limitations.
Aren’t we all?