From the Tub

It was a relief. Not only because I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a bath, but also because I’d spent most of the year in India. Tubs are in short supply there, commonly replaced with bucket showers. But there I was in Ohio, enjoying one. The night Aunt Linda died.

She was my biggest advocate. Aunt Linda’s the only one who spoiled me, the one who called me “Sweet Chess” and “My Beauty.” My godmother. The one of the four Mitchell daughters who addressed my mom only as “Sister.” And the one Mom called “Sister” back. The mama of my dearest cousin Mitchell – my version of a sister.

I remember summer lunches at Waffle House as she drove my brother and I to Virginia for our annual visit. I remember the excitement of driving through the “tree tunnel” as we neared her house. That excitement gripped me even as I arrived alone at 3 am the morning of her memorial.

I remember stops at the Little Sue for candy and cigarettes as we left her private development each morning. I remember car ride sing-a-longs and “That’s what became of the monk, the monk, the monk, the monk.” I remember forgiveness for spitting my gum out the car window – not far enough to clear the outside of the car.

I remember receiving roller blades and Dad getting upset that she thought our visit was excuse enough for an expensive gift. And getting upset at Dad because that’s what we loved about her.

I remember mornings with the three of us – Will, Mitchell and me – squeezed between her and Uncle Armin in her king-sized bed. With Regis and Kathy Lee. I remember French toast breakfasts at the bar, but not until she got out of bed mid-morning in her white nightgown that matched Mom’s.

I remember summer craft projects and curling our hair into Shirley Temple locks. I remember days on the river and jelly fish stings. I remember feeding the ducks before swimming lessons. I remember boogie boards at the beach and aloe on my back.

I remember bath time – a daily, exciting event then. She lathered shampoo into our hair and sometimes let us use a dab of her expensive conditioner. We pushed our sudsy hair, Mitchell’s white and mine red, into straight-up points to look like “pumpkin heads.”

I remember late night compromises as she mediated another kid fight. I remember goodnight kisses and “Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” and “Say your prayers,” and, “Just holler if you need me,” as she walked down to her room.

I remember flowers and butterflies and clay sun faces in her garden. I remember fishing off the dock. I remember standing by embarrassed as she made friends with every cashier. Secretly, I wished I could be as confident and social as her.

I remember her house filled with the most diverse, bright trinkets I knew. From places I now identify as South Africa, Puerto Rico, Europe, Australia. And TJ Maxx.

She drew everyone out of their shells. She told you that she wanted you to have the time of your life. So of course you came out to be in her excitement, to enjoy yourself, no matter what. If only to avoid being scolded at the party, shamed for not having fun.

These are the things I remember now.

But that night. In the tub. I only remembered to calm myself.

Every night in India, I rubbed aloe moisturizer on my legs and back. I hate lotion. But it reminded me of my mom and her love of self-pampering. It comforted me.

And the night Aunt Linda died, I took a bath. It lasted only a few minutes. But I had stopped. Stopped to sit and think and be warm. My mom never goes a night without a bath and a Diet Coke and Aunt Linda loved pampering, too, right? So this connected me to her, right?

Soon, I started to sweat. It was time to leave before it got clammy. So I took a deep breath, dried off, and lied in bed.

Her death didn’t hit me until I got to Virginia a few days later, driving through the black-black tree tunnel. My cousin was without her mama. My mom, the baby, without her nurturer. The intricate house and garden without their caretaker. But that hot bath. It soothed me for the moment. It tied me to the Mitchell girls.

Red + White

Red + White

Grieving on the York

The York

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The Power of Relationships

I’ve been hearing relationships emphasized – at work, in church, out of my own mouth. And I love it. Building relationships is my favorite activity. My mission.

But I wasn’t always like that.

Most of my life, I used relationships to feel good. To feel loved and accepted. And I was never satisfied because I was only taking from people. They never met my expectations. So, I thought I hated people. I avoided talking to strangers at all costs. And I settled for blaming my introversion.

What’s Introverting and What’s Not

Relationships

© 2013 Francesca Luppino

Thankfully, I realized that hating people isn’t a characteristic of introverts.

And I found out that hating people is different than feeling exhausted by large groups of them (a truer characteristic of introverts). And being loved is different than receiving the type of love I wanted. I was doing it all, but I didn’t have to include the hatred.

Once I wised up on what it really means to be an introvert, and once I really claimed my “love language” (quality time), I found myself loving to be with people. I wanted to invest in all of my relationships. And while I still avoid eye contact with retail workers and dread their perky deals and too many exclamation marks, I look forward to making friends – new and old.

Spreading the Love

So why should you care? You might be extroverted, knowing that you always have and will love being around people. Or you might hate socializing and be content with that.

But all of us have to remember something about relationships: they are the stuff of life. They create fruitful teams, marriages, families, love. And love is the only thing that can overcome our dissatisfaction and fear.

What really matters to you? You? Your significant other? Sex? Your family? Safety? Popularity? Respect? Money?

I know from experience that investing in my own desires only brings dissatisfaction. And investing in others for my own gain does the same. So I know that selflessness is necessary. Letting go of my fear is crucial. Let’s not waste our time to love.

I want to hear your thoughts. What’s your experience with introversion, extroversion, something in between, or building relationships?

The Beast and the Truth

He said to me, “Child, I’m afraid for your soul.

These things that you’re after – they can’t be controlled.

This beast that you’re after will eat you alive

And spit out your bones.”

-The Oh Hellos

So. It’s time. I mean, I hate to be all motivational, but it’s really time. I’ve been lying to myself, and it’s eating me right up.

  1. I believed I could make myself happy.
  2. I believed I could earn approval.
  3. I believed I could control situations and people.

Well, I knew I couldn’t do any of that. I’m a smart lady. But I lived like I could. And I’ve been unsatisfied, self-conscious, living in fear.

So, really, this beast has got to go. This liar.

Thank you. Thank you for getting rid of that beast right away. Thank you for showing me Truth and making it so easy for me to believe things like:

  1. Happiness is an attitude, not a feeling – a cause, not an effect.
  2. Approval doesn’t matter and breeds jealousy.
  3. Control is always fruitless. Freedom comes when we erase expectations and assumed needs.

As usual, my job is to remember. So. Let’s live. Let’s fill each other with joy, unconditional love, confidence and surrender.