I never really knew my grandmother. My mother’s mother. She died when I was a baby. Cancer. My father’s father passed away when I was a senior in high school. Complications due to cancer. Cancer’s an asshole. My mother’s father left us when I was 27. He had a stroke. He held on longer than expected. He was stubborn that way. My father’s mother is 90 (don’t anyone dare tell her I put that information out into internet land…she will kill me). She doesn’t look a day over 60. I have good genes. All four of my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War Two. They raised children in the 50s and 60s. They lost parents, children, and each other. They struggled financially. They sacrificed for their family. They loved each other. These four people came together and made my mother and my father, who somehow found each other in this crazy world, and then they made me. I am a part of their legacy.
I am often asked why I got divorced. Small talk, really. I encounter a number of new people in my career and inevitably the topic comes up. I don’t know how to gracefully reply. The fact is, there isn’t just one reason…there are a thousand reasons. Maybe more. You can’t boil down divorce to one act. One problem. One unfixable dilemma. The answer “adultery” seems to satisfy most people, which means I can quickly and safely change the subject. No one is gonna question adultery. No one wants to get lost down that awkward rabbit hole. But the honest to goodness truth is that I didn’t choose to divorce my husband merely because he cheated on me. In fact, I’m just as stubborn as my grandfather. I would have stayed forever just to make a point. To prove to the world that I could make my sad, pathetic little marriage work. To avoid failure. I’m not a moron. I realize he would have continued cheating. Nothing would have changed. I would have had to become one of those women who pretend not to notice. I would have had to find other reasons to feel joy in my life. I think I could have done that. Well, I think the old me could have done that.
I know I’m skipping ahead in the story, but I think this is important. It’s important because my family is growing. My sister is about to have a daughter. She already has a son and I swear to God, he is the absolute best human that has ever been created. The continuation of my grandparent’s legacy and my parent’s legacy weighs heavy on my heart. The fact is, the main reason I got divorced was because too many people have worked too hard for me ever lay down and allow myself to be treated like someone’s trash. George Walker didn’t raise four daughters to have one of his granddaughters ignore her worth. Noda Mason Walker didn’t wait tables and scrimp and save so I would forget that I didn’t need a man’s money to survive. Martha Brock Hill didn’t help grow a theatre so that two generations later I would neglect my passion. Les Hill didn’t voice every opinion he had (like it or not) so that I would lose my voice. And most importantly, my parents didn’t raise a weak woman. They didn’t raise any weak women.
That’s the real reason I got divorced. My life is built on the backs of all the sacrifices others have made before me. So that I could have this blessed life. So that I could grow up secure in my faith. So that I could grow up feeling loved. My divorce didn’t dishonor my family, but living a life where I would have been made to feel less than…that would have been the worst disgrace I could imagine. My legacy may not be like my sister’s. I may not have the opportunity to have children. That may not be God’s plan for me. When I think about my niece, who hasn’t even graced us with her presence yet, I worry about the road blocks she’ll encounter though life. I already pray for her safety and her happiness. My prayer is that every time she experiences hardships, she will be able to call upon the strength of those who came before her. That in some way she can learn from my mistakes. That she stands firm in her faith. My prayer is that when she gets dragged down; she is able to pull herself up, look around and exclaim “Hell no. I was made for more than this.” And maybe that can be my legacy.
3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”