Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Telling It Like It Is....

(My cousin Lynn and I were photographed Easter Sunday. I suspect this photos was taken about 1967. Lynn, on the left, was about 6, and I was about 5.)

I admire my cousin Lynn. You may remember, she recently lost her husband, Rickey. She now has the sole responsibility of raising their two beautiful children, Seth and Brice. I have to say, Lynn handled the services for Rickey with grace and composure and somehow managed to get through those difficult days. Now, I’m sure she faces many different challenges as a mom and the primary caregiver.

And while I admire all of those things about her, that’s really not the purpose of my writing today. You see, Lynn has an amazing quality, nay, ability, that I sometimes wish I had. Lynn has the ability to say what she thinks. All the time. And…she has told me that she has never regretted anything she has said. See what I mean? I wish I could do that – sometimes.

I am sure that as a middle school principal the ability to tell it like it is comes in especially handy. The stories she tells about what those kids do and say leave me speechless. Not Lynn. Without missing a beat, and in no uncertain terms, she tells them what’s on her mind and then lays down the law!

Lynn and I grew up living close together for many of our growing up years. An only child herself and only 10 months my senior, I guess we were much like sisters and had the love-hate relationships that I’ve heard others talk about. In many ways being from the same extended family, we are similar. Our tastes in decorating, for example, are very similar. On different occasions we have discovered that we actually bought the same items without discussing it until afterwards. I remember buying bath towels and even new handles for kitchen cabinets that were identical. We got a real kick out of that, complimenting each other on our great taste!

But, we’re also very different. I’ve always tried to be tactful, to communicate without offending. I have always been proud of my ability to relate to a variety of people, even playing the role of mediator or peacemaker when needed. Perhaps that’s why I ended up in a career which focuses on public relations and marketing – areas where those qualities are real advantages.

Sometimes though, just sometimes, I’d like to speak my mind to the person who steps up to the store counter out of turn, in front of others who are waiting. In this case more often than not, I say nothing. Lynn would say something or die on the spot! I’d also like to tell our mail carrier in no uncertain terms that she, for the 5th time this month, gave us our neighbor’s mail - yet again. I mean, how difficult is it, for goodness’ sake?! I should say that I have mentioned it to her, just not with the full enthusiasm I’d like. And certainly not in the colorful way I can imagine Lynn addressing the situation….

Similarly, but on a different note, Lynn has a very honest relationship with the gal who does her hair. (Now, I am blessed with a terrific hair dresser who fits me in amazingly fast, no matter when I call. Her name is Deb and she is wonderful. I love her!) Lynn has a different approach. When she needed a hair appointment with a busy stylist a few months ago, she told me the gal asked what her week looked like, so they could try to schedule an appointment a few days out. Lynn said, “Well, I don’t know, but I tell everybody you do my hair.” The stylist replied, “Can you come today?” Too funny!! That’s Lynn for you. She calls it as she sees it!

I could tell you more, like how she stabbed me with a pencil when we were 3 or 4 because I sat in her rocking chair. Sharing was never big on Lynn’s list, and she wanted me to remember that apparently. Although I don’t remember it, she tells with clarity how she stabbed my arm and then pulled the pencil down, breaking skin all the way down my arm. She wanted me to remember not to use her chair, I guess.

There were other times, though, that I do remember, like when I visited her at her grandmother’s house (as I often did…I loved ‘Momaw Mary’ and claimed her as my own). I remember visiting them in that little house on the hill when we were tweeners. Lynn wanted me to know that she was still in control, I guess. I remember her taking a large pin – like a corsage pin or a hat pin, as I recall – and threatening to poke me with it. I told her I’d tell Momaw Mary on her and she said, “I’ll wait until she goes in the other room and I’ll stick you with this. Who do you think Momaw’s going to believe?” Evil, I tell you, pure evil! Well, not really. More like sisters, I suppose??

But, there have been lots of wonderful times, too. I remember literally hundreds and hundreds of long-distance phone calls through the years. She has a quick wit and she’s so funny. She always makes me laugh. Through the years there have been times when we’ve been close and other times, well, not so much. I’ve always said that Lynn is probably as close as a sister as I’ll ever have. Is this the way sisters behave, this love-hate thing?

Please understand: I know Lynn has to have issues with me, too! When we used to shop together on occasion, she would fuss about how long it took me to make a decision about a purchase. Now she was right - I did have to see everything in a 50-mile radius before deciding sometimes. I remember shopping with her when I was looking for a wicker hamper for our bathroom in North Carolina 20 + years ago. She made some comment about me being the only person she knew who took a month to decide on a clothes hamper (in my defense, we used that hamper for years and I think it might still be holding something in storage somewhere in our basement or storage unit!). Ok, so she was right. There, I said it.

I also remember different times when she has called and asked. “How is your life? Wonderful, I suppose?” My 'PR answer' to what’s going on in my life – whether positive or not perhaps – is not something she can relate to. I think that’s why I admire her but I am also fascinated with her. You see, I think Lynn is my alter-ego! That being said, I guess I am her alter ego. Now I can tell you, she would be more frightened by that than I am! Not being the person who tells it like it is - without tact or caution - would hamper her personality. And isn’t her tell-it-the-way-it-is personality the reason why I love her the way she is?

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