Memories are hard to let go

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Turning the other cheek is not the way we Americans handle wrongdoings done against us. One of the most famous American feuds, the Hatfields and McCoys carried on for 30 years. Actually it is not just Americans who hold grudges, but the whole world. When I lived in Ireland, none of my neighbors had a nice word to say about the English. That feud has been going on for over a century. Now the impending war with Iraq goes back to feuds that this country has had with Israel.

My own parents were great ones for holding grudges. My mother grew up near rural Ellendale and my father on a farm near Blooming Prairie. My mother would say, "The girls in Blooming Prairie had a wilder streak in them compared to the Ellendale girls."

I asked her how the Blooming Prairie girls were wilder. She said, "Whenever I would go to Blooming Prairie with your dad, the Blooming Prairie girls would be leaning into the car windows of the young men. Their behinds would be sticking out in the street. The Ellendale girls would never do that."

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My dad laughed when she would make these comments and he would have a twinkle in his eye. I thought he must have been one of the young men that the women would lean into the car windows to talk to.

I knew after my mother made these comments that I wanted to be a wild Blooming Prairie girl. When I moved to our farm near Blooming Prairie years later, my mother said, "Now your girls will probably have a wild streak in them being raised near Blooming Prairie."

I said, "I sure hope so."

My dad held grudges too. He didn't like that one of his brothers was divorced, as this was a sin in the Catholic Church. He never allowed this brother to come and visit. I remember the day my uncle came to visit with his girlfriend and my dad told him to leave before he could even get out of the car. My sister and I heard my dad say, "I won’t allow you to bring that trampy woman on my farm."

We were so excited to almost see a woman that my dad considered a tramp.

Being a trampy woman was the worst thing a girl could be, according to my mother. Whenever a sexy woman came on television, like Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor, my mother would say with contempt, "Look at her. She is just a tramp."

We began to think that the best-looking women in the world must be tramps.

We knew from the tone of my mom’s voice it was bad to be a tramp, but secretly we girls wanted to be sexy, trampy women.

I never had a chance to become a trampy woman because I married at age 19 and have been married to the same man for 27 years. But I have held grudges and it has taken me years to learn to let things go. My sister Kate said she has had this curse too and her husband Adrian has helped her to learn to let things go. He summed it up one day when Kate was ranting on about something.

"You don't let things go. You are like a dog that buried the bone, but you have to keep digging it up because you found some more gristle on it. You can't bury the bone, you have to keep digging it up to gnaw on it some more," Adrian said.

He was right and he said it so eloquently. I must work at it everyday to bury those bones of contempt I carry. I don't want to gnaw on gristle constantly.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at