Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nothing’s Wrong.

When I was younger, I hated watching people cry. Sometimes my mom would cry when she got real frustrated with her children’s behavior and all three of us would sit there feeling completely awkward, not knowing what to say. It was probably her best tactic.

I also hated testimony meetings at church and girl’s camp because someone was bound to cry. I knew who the criers were and when they stood up I would get a little tense because I knew what was coming.

For awhile I stayed away from movies that made people cry and music that made people cry. I stuck to the stuff that was void of any kind of sentiment – partly because I thought a lot of the sentimental stuff was phony and manipulated, but also because I didn’t exactly know how to respond. I understood crying if your brother pushed you or you fell off your bike, but if your tears were a result of something touchy-feely, I felt a little helpless.

As I got older sentiment didn’t bother me so much. I started to allow myself to cry more. I didn’t mind books that made me cry or music that made me cry. Maybe you get to a point where you need an outlet of some sort, and if it’s misdirected, so what? I could cry over the stupidest things even though the worst thing that happened to me that day was I got a B on a math test. I will never join the ranks of those people who get up every month for Fast and Testimony meeting and start to cry before they get a word out, but I suppose I became somewhat of a “crier.”

A couple years ago I was home all by myself and I popped in the movie “Once.” When it was over I sat there and cried for a good 10 minutes. Not just tears, SOBS. It was ridiculous. I don’t think I identified directly with any of the characters, I just felt like crying, and so I did – all through the credits.

There’s an Everybody Loves Raymond episode (of course there is, there’s one for everything – it’s almost like Seinfeld that way) where Deborah gets the house to herself for the morning. Ray decides to spy on her because he’s curious as to what she plans to do. He peeks through the window at one point and sees her sitting on the couch, crying with a box of Kleenex and she’s not even watching TV or anything. Of course he gets all worried.

Sometimes it takes awhile for me to cry about something because I’m just so busy that I don’t have time. Last week I stopped by Albertsons after work. As is often the case, I chose the wrong check out line and ended up waiting for a long time. Because I had nothing else to do I thought about a conversation I had with a friend the night before. He told me a lot of things, some of which kind of made me feel bad. It was actually a good conversation and I bore it like a champ, but hadn’t really had time to think about it until that moment in the check out line. So I stood there, holding my chocolate milk and all-purpose flour, on the verge of tears. I looked up and saw the bagger kind of lean to the side so he could get a better glimpse of me as he tried to figure out what was wrong. Poor guy – he looked so concerned. Nothing’s wrong, really. Seriously, don’t worry about it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dark, Curly Hair

Grandma Durham told me many stories yesterday, but there’s only one I'm allowed to share.

She typically tries to avoid the topic of dating (not really), but she insisted I sit with her on the porch swing as she gave me advice. I was told many things, one of them was to take up golf because I can meet a lot of people that way. I'm hesitant to take dating advice from someone who hasn't dated since she was a child.

And then she asked me what kind of boys I like. I told her I’m first and foremost drawn to intelligence and good conversationalists, but then I told her I tend to like curly hair for some reason.

“Oh,” she began, “I love dark curly hair. Can I tell you a story that is true?”

How I wish I had my digital voice recorder at this point. I will now paraphrase to the best of my memory (my interjections are in red).

When I was a young girl in high school, I was looking through my yearbook before school started and I saw a picture of this boy with dark, curly hair and I decided I was going to find him and meet him.

What was his name?

Lynn Sorensen. Oh, he was so good looking. Isn’t that silly? I was in love with a boy I haven’t even met.

Juvenile, but not silly.

Anyway, so school started, and I found him. We started to date.

Wow. That was easy.

I was very beautiful. So we went out and we went dancing every weekend.

Where did you go dancing?

The Old Mill. They had an orchestra and you would dance inside or outside under the stars. Oh it was wonderful. And I had this electric blue velvet dress that my mother bought me.

Oooh…where’s the dress?

Oh, I don’t know. I think my nieces probably stole it. (And then she went off on a tangent about how her nieces stayed at her house and yada yada yada).

Anyway, back to my story. One day Lynn Sorensen came up to me and asked me if I would go steady – do you know what that means?

(quick, get on with the story nod)

and I was thrilled. “Of course I’ll go steady!” I said, after all I was in love with him. But then one day,

Wait…how long did you “go steady”?

A week and a half. He came up to me and said, “My mother told me I can’t go steady with you anymore.


Oh, it gets even better. I was heartbroken.

Wait, so did you still go out on dates, but just not “steady”?

No. And then, in my yearbook, he wrote something about me putting too high a priority on fashion and clothes.

(Exasperated gasp from me)

Can you believe it? I was devastated. He went away to the University of Chicago and for weeks in the summer I cried and cried and my mother tried to console me.

Anyway, the next year I went up to the U.

One day, as I was walking up past the Park Building my husband (she meant, her husband to be) came walking down and said, “Now, didn’t I meet you at a dance the other night? I’ll tell you something. I’m going on a mission. I have 17 girls waiting for me, but if all of them decide not to wait for me I will marry you when I get back.”

Wow, Grandpa.

So he went on his mission and I had many boys ask me to marry them.

(Half look of shock that she would say that/half look of disbelief from me)

I was very beautiful. But I wasn’t in love with any of them. There was this one man who was kind of short who said, “Are you in love with that musician?” (referring to my Grandpa), “because you will never have any money.”

Anyway. Lynn Sorensen became a General Authority. One day, about 60 or 70 years after I last saw him, he called me on the phone and said, “Is this Betty Divers Durham?” and I said, “Yes, it is.” And he said, “This is Lynn Sorensen, I don’t know if you remember me. But I was in the temple earlier this week and a thought occurred to me that I should call and tell you how sorry I am that I left that mean note in your yearbook.”

And then I just laughed and said, “Oh. You poor man.”

End of story.

I really, really wish I had her yearbook so I could see what his picture looked like in there, but instead I have this picture of who I think is Elder Sorensen in his later years (thanks Google).

Of course, she ended up marrying my Grandpa. Who also happened to have -- you guessed it -- dark curly hair.

Here's a picture of Grandpa being a musician, without any money.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I Wanna Be Like Mom

I’ve mentioned before how few people can make me laugh harder than my mom. I don’t remember her being this funny when I was little. Maybe as you grow up you get to know your parents better, and so their humor starts to make more sense once you really understand where they’re coming from.

Sometimes her humor borders on the inappropriate which, of course, adds another level of hilarity. The other night Mom showed me how she was cleaning and rearranging all the shelves in her living room. And then she tried to give me one of those plaster statuettes of Jesus in Gethsemane. When I was sitting at the piano she carried it to me, preciously, with a smile that knew I probably didn’t want it anymore than she did. She told me she made it.

“When did you make that?”

“Long time ago. I can’t believe you’ve never noticed it.”


“It’s been sitting on those shelves for the past 20 years!”

“I’ve never noticed it there.”

“Why do I do anything?”

“Why don’t YOU want it?”

And then she looked down at it, paused for a couple seconds and said, “It has delighted me long enough.”

And then I continued to play the piano but had to stop after about 30 seconds because I couldn’t stop laughing at the implication that Mom has grown out of Jesus.

Today is Mom’s birthday and I wanted to share some of my favorite things about her.

She is very creative and crafty -- hence the plaster Jesus. She probably made that back when she was in that Family Home Evening group where a bunch of mothers got together and planned FHE activities and shared ideas for their families. Mom actually makes a lot of cool things and I know if I want to make something and don't know how, all I have to do is ask her -- and if she doesn't know how to do it, she'll figure it out.

Mom loves to give gifts whether it’s for a special occasion or she just saw something and thought of you. I remember one Christmas, she kept finding stuff after the holiday was over and gave it to me saying, “Santa meant to give this to you earlier.”

Mom is a great travel companion. She loves to explore and learn new things. I was able to spend two weeks with her in Wales, England and Paris last summer and then again for three weeks last May when I went to London to visit her and my dad.

This is a rather recent development, but if Mom notices me looking at something in a store she’ll say, “Do you want me to buy that for you Honey?” I usually tell her she doesn't have to do that, but if you say you don't want what you're looking at she'll buy you something else without you knowing about it. In fact, we were in the Christ Church Cathedral Gift Shop in Oxford and someone noticed my mom doing this and asked, “So, how it works is you point at something and Becky will buy it for you?” Pretty much. About a week later we were at Durham Cathedral. Mom, Dad and I all split up for 30 minutes to explore the cathedral and then met up for show and tell. I told them how much I loved the contemporary stained glass window by the entrance. After that Dad and I climbed the cathedral tower. On the way down I said, “How much you wanna bet Mom went into the gift shop and bought me a postcard of that stained glass window?” Dad didn’t take the bet because he knows Mom all too well. Sure enough, we met Mom at the bottom and she presented me with a postcard and everything she learned about the window from her guidebook.

Mom loves holidays and celebrating everything. She has boxes of decorations for every holiday. Growing up we would have to take apart the entire set up in the family room to make way for all her Christmas stuff. She also decorates for Halloween, Valentines Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving and Easter. She was always introducing new and interesting ways to dye Easter eggs.

Mom loves to entertain and no one throws a better party. Everyone who came to my 30th birthday party at my parents’ house can attest to this. She went all out for dinner (for 50 of my friends), went to the trouble of mailing invitations and she even planned games. When I was little I loved it when Mom planned parties. I specifically remember the Christmas singing parties, The Tabernacle Choir Hanukah party (or something like that – there was Jewish food and my Dad’s Tab Choir friends came), Dad’s spontaneous 40th surprise birthday party, and then the small dinner parties. I remember one in particular when we invited a family over. Mom wanted to do placecards, but wasn’t sure how to spell one of the kid's names who was coming. So she just misspelled everyone’s name.

I love how Mom knows what’s important to me and she wants me to have it – even if it isn’t necessarily important to her.

I love that we look the same -- especially when we were little. It makes more sense for siblings to look alike because their DNA is more alike, but I can always differentiate between Lisa and myself in pictures, however, sometimes I’m not sure if that little girl with dark hair and bangs is me or my mom.

I think I like that we look the same because any comparison between me and my mom is the biggest compliment in the world. She puts her heart, soul, genius and precious time into everything she does. You talk to anyone who knows Becky and they can’t say anything before telling you how much they adore and admire her and how brilliant she is.

At some point, my mom started asking for my advice on certain matters and ideas and projects. It’s a wonderful feeling that she can trust me and appreciate me in that way and still be my mommy as she continues to deliver Easter baskets, bring me valentines and buy me toys.