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2001-02-23 - 12:46AM

I just threw out an old phone book which I have been using for the past 7 years or so. It was a gift from my now Ex-Mother In Law. It seems it is appropriate to toss it out- especially since some of the edges are so worn that the numbers in them are missing the last digits. Its so interesting to me that only when reading the old phone book am I fully aware that ever since I have become used to communicating via e-mail that I have ignored all those friends who are not on line. It was really nice to think about some of those friends who I haven't been in touch with for a while, and I hope to soon get into a routine of actually writing or calling them.

Its really nice to have Clara as an Ex- Mother In Law. I like her much more now than I did as a mother in law. When I got divorced I used to say, "Yes- I'm divorcing my mother-in-law as I just can't take her anymore" She is a lovely person, however was just over-involved and to controlling for my taste. That's what I get for having married an only child of an only child of an only child... Its a long family history of odd relationships Edipus like psychologically. I think the fact she and her mother before her were essentially single mothers didn't help their situation.

Interestingly, my ex-husband's grandmother always wore her wedding ring and talked about her "husband" on occassion. Its odd since he had left her and she never heard from him again. Apparently he was angered by her audacity in deceiding to go to college and to get a job! He wanted her to be home like a good wife. She was a smart lady and a hard worker who started off cleaning houses in the Richmond area of VA and then later worked for the government in some office job for over twenty years in Philadelphia. I think she had also been a phone operator at one point. In any case, that ring on her finger seemed strange to me, however she she never officially got a divorce I think she felt like she was spiritually obligated to wear it or something. Or else she was so jaded that she didn't want anyone else to ever approach her and she wore it like a deterrent of men.

I once witnessed the most intense anger I had ever seen in anyone as my Ex's grandmother told me how her lifes savings had been in the form of stock in AT & T which was a gift given to her years ago from a wealthy family she had cleaned for. She left the stock in an account for her only grandson, with his mother as its trustee with the specific instrucions that it was an educational trust and the money was only to be used for education. Education was her ticket out of the world of cleaning other people's homes while she scraped by. Education gave her the means to get a job she was proud of with the U.S. government so that she could buy her very own townhouse in Philly. She loved that house and refused to sell it in her old age even though she spent most of her time in Buffalo, NY with her daughter. So she was livid when, at age 16 her grandson wanted an electric bass and ampliphier, and her daughter cashed in the stock to purchase them as she believed them to be "educational."

She must have seethed in anger for at least the next few years as she watched the ticker of that stock. She was in pain when she later watched her grandson persue music rather than college. She found folly in his mother's support of that lifestyle as a "career."

I also recall her surprise at just how talented her grandson was as she heard him play an upright bass in a jazz ensamble in his late twenties.

Unfortunately, her foresight proved to be wise. Despite talent, jazz musicians are not known for their happiness. Its the blues and the nightlife and all its pitfalls which give jazz its noteriety- and its strange allure of taking us beyond reality for a while. Its problematic for anyone to live in that altered state of reality on a regular basis!

So now when my children go visit their Father in Buffalo, I more fully understand the anger of his grtandmother. I hear of how he still sleeps all day and works at night, and how the children are terribly pained by this and feel the loss of their father most acutely when they are in his mother's home where he lives sometimes-- and they see him only occasionally. And I understand the wisdom and foresight of the stoic grandmother who is usually very quiet, but I onced witness go on a rampage about the importance of education.

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