Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Last Word


It was a rather simple explanation when I began. I was updating a profile. I think profiles are rather boring for the most part but sometimes you run across one that is just amazing to read. I decided I needed to update my profile on Blogger since it is now linked with G+. I'm on the internet in various places and my profile is one of the typical profiles... rather boring. I think I wanted to be someone exciting and special. You see, I'm not important. I've made no earth shattering discoveries. I'm not a movie star, sports figure, or Nobel prize winning writer. I am Mertice's girl; Jerry's wife and widow; Mike & Dave's mom; Sarah's Mawmaw. I mean something to them but half of them are dead. All are noble things to be but they just aren't. . . special.

So, I began to write a new profile and found myself totally stumped. I reread the old one and yes, that was me. . . the one who died when the world turned upside down and she fell off. I realized that I no longer resembled that person much, at least in my own mind and that if I was really honest, I don't really know who I am anymore. Kind of makes it hard to create an accurate profile. What could I say about who and what and why I am? I didn't know. So I sent out this email. “I need one word you'd use to describe me.” I figured I'd get something to string together and make it sound . . . well. . . special.

I emailed 18 people asking them to describe me in one word. Nothing more that that. These were people who know me to varying degrees and the time spans vary. Some hold degrees, some don't. Some are Christians, some don't even believe in the man in the moon. Of those not related to me, I've met about half face to face and the others, I've never met at all but I have held long conversations with them, a few well into the darkest hours of the night during the worst days I've ever lived.

One by one the responses came in. Of course, with the responses came the inevitable question: What is this for? I decided I'd let them know when I figured it out.

I received ten responses to my query and the order was fairly predictable but I won't identify anyone. They will know what their responses were and that's all that matters. They all sort of astounded me in one sense. They flattered me. That wasn't my intention at all. Hold on before you go making assumptions. I didn't say they were all intended to flatter me. Some words were picked because that is how some people view me and it is in a negative light. Yes, they're friends. No, it doesn't bother me. You see, I don't think I can really know me until I know how others see me. I know that how some people see me isn't always truth but sometimes it is and in both cases who I am is revealed.

So, I'm getting these words. The thing is, I'm an avid word hound. From the time I was a small child I loved looking up the meanings of words. I mean, you think you know what something means but have you really looked it up . . . in a really big dictionary? When I was seven or eight years old, my mama bought this huge dictionary. It was my most favorite book in the whole world and I used it faithfully. I've never lost a love for huge dictionaries. My current one probably weighs a good twelve pounds. It is a library dictionary – even more huge. As the responses came in, I looked up every one and their meanings. I reasoned that I'd get a broad idea of what they were saying and thinking if I had the definitions.

I must have been right because I clearly saw myself in what they gave me. I don't deny it. I doubt everyone will agree, but that's all right. That's who they are. I share these with you because this is who I am.

A very old friend, 20 years, sent me the very first word, and I wasn't surprised by the timing nor the word. PROVINCIAL: not a nice word in itself, if you think too much about it. In this case the first definition  was “narrow” meaning I'm narrow minded. But I never settle for one definition. I discovered I am very provincial. You see, I am “lacking the polish of urban society; unsophisticated.” And am I thankful that I do not reflect the current society and its version of sophistication and broad mindedness. It reeks of vanity, self-indulgence, and pettiness. It is also fairly obscene and totally lacking in character. There was a third entry for provincial: “of or relating to a decorative style (as in furniture) marked by simplicity, informality, and relative plainness”. I'm pretty certain this paints a good picture of my taste, morals, and ethics. And for those who've visited my home... a pretty accurate description of the house. Probably describes how I dress, too!

A relative sent me UNIQUE: “being the only one; sole; being without a like or equal; unequaled distinctively characteristic; peculiar; unusual”. Although I never considered myself unique in any way, she's probably right. I didn't know she thought that way about me. In light of this experiment I'm more inclined to agree now. Its a good thing.

The next response came from someone I've only known about a year, one of my NaNo group. SINCERE: free of dissimulation; honest; pure; marked by genuineness; true”. I have to admit here that I'm flattered. The truth is, I have a great desire to always be sincere. I don't like prevarication and dissimulation. I want the person you see to be the person I really am. Well, maybe its working.

One of my best never met friends called me CHALLENGING: “arousing competitive interest, thought, or action; invitingly provocative, fascinating”. We exchange some very interesting thoughts and ideas. She's wonderful, smart lady. Challenging isn't something I've ever seen in me but the concept made me smile. Bear in mind I've been called difficult by some... just saying.

I have several never met friends and this is one who has followed my trials and who's own life is filled with painful difficulties. She sent me the word ENDURE. It is a transitive verb and means “to undergo (as a hardship) especially without giving in, suffer; to regard with acceptance or tolerance”. There are times I'd rather not wear this word but when I looked it up, it gave me something. Courage, I think.

Another never met friend said I was SEARCHING. We've only known each other about a year but her word gave me pause. She's a smart woman and she's picked up on a lot in a short time. “To look or inquire carefully; to make painstaking investigation or examination.” Sometimes those who know you least, know you best? Maybe I'm just nosey? Nah, searching is good.

The next email was from a friend who also helped me get through the dark times. They sent me OPINIONATED. Its a lovely word, one people love to toss around, particularly opinionated people! I must say here that it is a badge I wear with honor. “Unduly adhering to one's own opinion or to preconceived notions.” If you truly believe in something, you don't let go no matter what the rest of the world thinks about you. No, I'm not changing. I don't expect anyone else to change either. After all, everyone has an opinion they think is superior.

I have a friend who's sister died, maybe a year before Jerry. Both she and her sister were never met friends, both wonderful Southern gals. I don't even know HOW we met! We all three chatted online regularly for at least a year when her sister died of cancer. I hope I was there for her, even at a distance. When Jerry died, she was definitely there for me. I built a whole farm on Farm Town with her as my neighbor and wrote about 50 chapters in Hidden in the Mist! All because of her poking and prodding me. We talked for hours. She saved my sanity. She sent the word ECLECTIC. I have to be truthful here. I would have looked this up even if I hadn't looked up the others. I didn't really know what it meant, even though I thought I did. I was sort of surprised. “Selecting what appears to be best in various doctrines, methods, or styles; composed of elements drawn from various sources; also heterogeneous” Hmmm, well, I like it. Totally opposite of opinionated but there ya go! Still, it summed up a lot of the other words nicely.

I actually laughed out loud when the next email came in. The word was INDOMITABLE: “incapable of being subdued, unconquerable”. I could say the same about the person who sent it. I think that is why we've become friends, we share this same characteristic and it is what allows us to engage in lively conversations in G+ hangouts and via emails. . . sometimes up to a dozen in a day! Molly Brown would have loved us!

That last letter was received a little over a week ago. Of nearly twenty people, nine responded in the first week. A tenth faraway, never met friend emailed me last week to say she was having a hard time coming up with one word but she would be getting back to me. So, I decided there really was no hurry. I waited. This morning it occurred to me that I really should start putting this together and even opened my email to start it. I was amazed to find a second email from this friend.

After I read her email I was so profoundly affected I was very nearly speechless. That's doesn't happen often. I can't really describe what I felt. Remember, I asked for only one word and she gave me one but the beauty of her reply in describing why she chose this word is one of the loveliest I've ever received. I'm glad she took so long to respond. I have to share it and I hope you can understand why this word had to be the last word.

One word is ridiculously hard you know!!! There are so many aspects of you that could describe you and all the amazing things you do. However, I keep coming back to one word, which reminds me of how I came across you on Multiply originally. It was when you had just lost Jerry and in reading your blogs I finally understood how and why people get married.

I know that sounds weird, but having Aspergers and being useless at relationships, I could never understand why my friends chose to marry the men or women that they did. And your unbelievable deep emotions at your loss explained it all - that bone deep love and grief and pain at losing him. And although I hate that you have to continue going through your loss, I am also thankful that you have taught me that lesson. I know I will never have that but you have helped me to understand the people around me more. Thank you. And to still have you, despite the whole Multiply debacle!!

Your word is – Tsunami.”



No, I didn't have to look it up.




*All definations from http://www.merriam-webster.com/
*Multiply© is the name of an online social network.

5 comments:

  1. That was a great blog and interesting to read. I think to sum up a person in one word is nigh on impossible so out of the words you've listed unique would be the best one as we are all unique. Some sound better than others as you said - I understand where you come from regarding opinions but opinionated sounds quite negative, maybe principled would be a nicer way of putting it. They all sum up a person I'm glad to have on my friends list. :)

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  2. I loved this. As a new "never met friend", it has helped me get to know you better! I'm so glad we have connected!

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  3. I'm glad we've connected too, Terri. It is nice to know that some good things can come out of bad ones. Thanks for traveling with me.

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  4. Dixie -

    I loved how you wrapped this all up for us, and it makes me want to meet these people who responded to you. You're very special, with very special friends.

    Laurie

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