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Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Feeling conflicted ...

My intention has always been to use my web log as a way to leave behind a record for my family -- a family that in many ways has grown to include an entire world of people. It was during those days when I was deeply involved in a family history project that I saw how sparse was any record of the women among my ancestors, except for my slave great grandmother, Leontine, who was such a colorful and much-loved figure within the family that stories about her as told through my mother and aunt filled in enough of her life that she was always very much alive for me.

There were others, Aunt Alice (one of Leontine's daughters) who founded the first school for colored children in St. James Parish, Louisiana where she served as principal until her accidental death in her sixties. There was Uncle Sam's son, George Allen who was president of a college in Texas (will have to look up the Ebony story with the photo of George in cap and gown standing beside his friend, Thurgood Marshall). Then there are those whose stories are better left un-remembered, but most often they were male family members.

Increasingly I felt compelled to leave a record, as truthful as possible, for those whom I will leave behind to continue whatever legacy we've collectively created over all of the years.

Ran into a problem many months ago. Something that I disclosed about one of my sons obviously invaded his privacy. I'm not even sure what it was, but he mentioned one day in passing that he'd stopped reading my writings as the result of it. It was an innocent oversight, but I became aware of the need to tell my story without crossing the limits of discretion. It started to distort meanings, and I've begun to feel as if the impression I'm leaving is one of a thoroughly self-centered woman without much connection with her family. Strange. It has become an "I" document, and a huge piece of my life -- that essential part of my being as mother -- is being censored in order to protect the privacy of my sons and their families.

I'm not sure what to do about it, but I noticed how freely I've been able to share the agony of Rick's life as well as his death -- and in noticing, I realized that I surely would not have felt so free in doing so were he alive today. Dorian is illiterate due to her retardation so she figures rather large in my writings. My grandchildren, Rhico and Kokee, and Jessica and Justin, Alayana and Tamaya, are young enough to feel some discomfort were I to disclose anything more than incidental tidbits about their lives -- so they're missing here, as well.

There obviously is no immediate answer to this, but I guess I'm needing to at least make the observation in order to explain the absence of my two sons and their immediate families in this personal record. I've not even told David and his children about my blog -- but will now. Perhaps they'll have an answer, or, I'll be able to get some guidance on just how much embarrassment they're willing to put up with! One could so easily abuse the closeness that we share.

There are probably enough "Betty Stories" to tell without crossing those lines, I think. Meanwhile, I'll continue to hold to myself as subject and see how far that will take me without bruising any feelings unnecessarily.

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