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A.D. Odom
This weblog is my online journal. You'll find my opinions and general thoughts on a variety of topics as well as links to articles of interest on the web.  When the spirit moves me, I will also include longer essays which will be posted in the Essay section of this Weblog.
Be sure to check out some of my writings, poetry, and photographs as I'll change those as the mood moves me to do so.   Drop me a line if mood moves you at .

Thursday, July 31, 2003

Commitment, Duty, Responsibility

For five or six consecutive Sundays after Christine's death, I experienced a strange phenomenon of waking at and finding myself piddling around the house until some time after   This past May, on the 26th, I did the same.  This past Sunday, I noticed I did the same and the only reason I noticed it this time is because of an appointment I scheduled for that morning.  In fact, I am now realizing I have been doing this quite often this past year.  Sunday, I piddled around the house until , called the woman I was to meet, set my clock and went back to bed.   Unfortunately, since I work Sunday nights, I need to sleep if I am to make it to or in the morning at the top of my game.  The experience, however, made me realize a personality trait Christine and I shared and helped me realize the trait is something I need to lose.

On the 14th of April last year, a month or so before Christine’s death, I was traveling back and forth from her house to the hospital to help her finish taxes for her clients.  When it was all done, Christine said “no more commitments.  No more responsibilities.”  Another woman in the room questioned her and even I was shocked to hear Christine say those words.  Whether Christine was experiencing discomfort with the buildup of fluid in her lungs, her sleepless nights due to the incredible pain in her shoulder, or just plain tired, she continued to do what she said she would do; sometimes to her detriment.  Later that evening, when we were alone, Christine began preparing me for her death by saying she felt herself “going down fast.”  She continued by telling me she knew she would eventually get worse and would probably not be able to do for herself.  She wanted me to know how much she loved me and to let me know the woman I once knew was slowly becoming someone else.  This was also the beginning of her “what are you willing to give for your soul” mantra.

I believe the point of her statement and/or mantra had a lot to do with giving so much of herself for others she found they neither respected nor cared for what she gave in kindness.   “The more you give, the more they want and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference” she said.  In the 11th hour, I found Christine always wanted to go to Amsterdam, Greece and Hawaii.  She always wanted to climb the mountain to see the sunrise in Maui.  She did many things in her life that were closely associated with who she was as a lesbian activist:  go to gay and lesbian events, attended Nia every year, attended Sistahfest and other events such as these, but she never did what she wanted to do for herself.  Outside of duty, commitment, and responsibility, Christine never had time to do for herself.  Much of her giving had a lot to do with the feeling of not being wanted as a child.  I believe Christine tried to give to others what she never received growing up, that being the need to feel loved, wanted and respected.  Many times her giving was not reciprocated by those on the receiving end of her kindness. 

This is what I thought about last Sunday as I grabbled with whether I should cancel the appointment I made or go through with it.  In the past, I would have gone through with it because I committed myself.  I would have returned home afterwards wanting for sleep and probably would not have slept for fear I would somehow oversleep and would have been miserable the entire evening at work.  I too would have done what Christine often did “I wish I asked you to call me to wake me up.”  If I told her to cancel and not worry about it, she would say “I promised I would do it, I’m going to do it.  I believe in keeping my word.”  Keeping her word kept her from Amsterdam, Greece and Hawaii. 

Last Sunday, I was up at and for the remainder of the time until , when I made the call to cancel the appointment, I watched three movies in their entirety.  Funny, I thought watching a movie would put me to sleep since that always worked for me, but no, I ended up watching three entire movies and all three had similar themes – the privileged, or the ones with status believed themselves better and looked down their noses at those they felt were the underclass and less fortunate.  There was an element of prejudice in each of the movies.  Additionally, in each, the ones considered less fortunate, lacking status and privilege, those who were looked down upon excelled anyway, in spite of how they were viewed, and became very successful.   At the end of each movie, success was achieved not by following the one way presumed to be the only and right way, they excelled by following their own path and their success and respect was measured not by status, privilege, or being born the correct race; no, their success was measured by their ability to cross and build bridges, by respecting all people regardless of their status in life, and being true to themselves. 

I have come to the realization I have been going about things the wrong way.  I needed a wake up call both literally and figuratively.  I need to look at things from a different perspective and follow my own wishes and desires.  I need to be true to myself and not follow anyone else’s path or Christine’s path for that matter and therein lies the truth about it all – I’ve been pursuing the wrong path.  Maybe that is why Christine pushed me to go through with FemmeNoir because she finally understood I walked a different path than she and what she tried to show me was not necessarily right for me.  In the end, she was more apart of my world than I hers and I needed to take a good close look at that one element of our relationship.  No, I need to pursue a different path and that I shall do.  To thine own self be true. 

Thu, July 31, 2003 | link