Big People Talk
When I was a child I remember my parents used to go into the sacred ‘front room’ and close the door when we had certain visitors. Well, I mean when they had visitors. Their friends and relatives would be shown into the best room and we, as children would be left outside.
If we dared to venture in to the room while they were talking we would be shooed out again especially if we dared to speak. It paid to be like the embossed flowery wallpaper – obviously there, but after a while unnoticed.
When we spoke it was like being at a tennis match, all heads turned to us and a chorus of dissent reached our ears. This was sometime accompanied by a slap if the interruption was way out of place.
The words that were slapped into our bare legs were invariably some variation of, “Big people are talking!”
As we retreated to the dining room or garden I think we children wondered how the ‘big people’ always got their own way and got to make all the decisions.
It came to me the other day that all those people are now gone or going. A friend was talking about the death of her father’s best friend. I recently attended the funeral of another friend’s father, there is death all around and it has sadly become an intimate associate in recent times. All the ‘big people’ I knew have gone or are currently going.
It hurts. It really hurts.
The most recent departure of a loved one has made me realise that we are the big people now. We have to support and comfort each other as we journey on. We have to make the decisions.
It does hurt, but we will make it through. Together.
At social family gatherings there are natural divisions between the youngest and the more mature folk. I now fall above the division line, and it reinforces the fact that I am seen as an adult who has to do adult things. This is a responsibility I was hidden from as a child. I did not have a rite of passage where I was inducted into adulthood by my parents.
My mother left abruptly, as death snatched her from my teenage life. My father lived a secluded existence in the remnants of the family where he limited his communications to directions and corrections.
As with most of my siblings growing up was a DIY affair, we didn’t have the assistance of self help manuals from books stores, we were tutored by the scars of our own mistakes. Our aunts and uncles faded away from our lives when their visits were frequently curtailed by the cold front erected by my father.
The coin has now flipped, I am on the other side and I see things I didn’t notice or have the words to speak about when I was younger, and so it’s time for this big person to talk.
That uncle who drinks too much and still has wandering hands, that aunt who wears too much perfume, always gets a food hangover after a party and exposes herself on purpose, these are the people we need to talk about, these are the people I need to talk about and thereby smooth the path for the new big people who are in line behind me.
I am responsible for what I see, I have a responsibility to talk now and not to bury the family secrets for another generation, for the next group people to personally and painfully uncover.
© Marjorie H Morgan 2018