Monday, July 20, 2009

Gardenias For Breakfast: A Reflection On Mothers And Daughters

It is Sunday evening as I begin this post. The boys are beginning to show a little interest in golf, so Jim has gone with them to hit a few balls at the driving range. Bri and Jessica decided to go along and hang out at the pool. It is a 'cool' 90 degrees with overcast skies here. I am sitting on the deck at the patio table listening to the thunder in the distance and the cicadas singing in the trees...and it has me thinking about the book I read last week.

I first heard about Gardenias For Breakfast (by Robin Jones Gunn) back in February over at the 5 Minutes for Books blog. (You can read Carrie's review here.) I don't really know why it appealed to me so much other than maybe the books setting (Louisiana). Having spent my whole life in the South, I do tend to enjoy a good southern story. I had been looking for the book for a little while and I stumbled across it a few weeks ago at Half Price Books.

I read this book in two sittings...broken up only because we had a party at our house for which I had to prepare. Yet, it has been on my mind for the past week, rendering me unable to pick up a new book to read. I thought maybe if I sat at the keyboard I might be able to string together a few of the treasures that I uncovered in the book and not forget them too soon.

"Everybody has a story. You listen to their story, Honeygirl, and your story will come find you." Thus begins the story of mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters, probably all over the world...but very much, all over the South. I will not even pretend to write a 'book review', (there are many others much more talented at that than I) but I will share how the story touched me.

I am not sure that you can fully appreciate the book if you haven't watched a daughter grow up and seen yourself reflected in her eyes. It isn't until you 'see' the pain that you have inflicted on her that you can begin to understand some of the wounds you carry around from your family of origin. I am also convinced that every single one of us has those wounds, no matter how wonderful our family life may have been...because we all speak words in haste or frustration, we all hurry about at times and fail to see the pain we have caused in someone else by our words or deeds. And for some reason, mothers and daughters seem to 'feel' these things deeper than sons and fathers...or at least we are more apt to show it.

One of the biggest things that I took from this book is that a lot of those wounds (the ones we create and the ones we carry) were not given intentionally. {I know this is not always the case.} Most of our wounds come from the everyday circumstances of living life together. Let's face it, only one Man lived the perfect life, the rest of us mess up...OFTEN. We speak when we should listen, we procrastinate when we should act, or we are so caught up in our own hurts or worries that we just don't see how those closest to us are in need of our attention.

But, do you know what else comes from living life together? Strength. Courage. And if we let it, forgiveness and grace. Sometimes, when I look in the eyes of my daughters or hear the reflection in their voices, I catch a glimpse of my strengths too. My daughters are all very different from one another, and they are all three different from me. Just as Rosa and I are different from one another and from our Mother; and she is different from her sisters and they are all different from their mother; etc. etc. throughout the family tree. Yet there are strong family traits, physical and emotional, that are reflected in each of our lives. We are all a part of one another...and it is mostly for the good.

The Gardenia; it gives off the most wonderful aroma, yet is so easily bruised at the slightest mishandling. So it is with Family...a word that conjures up images of what is the worst and the best in all of us.


Robin said... if your not gonna write your own book maybe you need to be a book reviewer.

And this is why I ready your blog...these are the things that are not in our conversations.

Robin said...

I mean "read" not "ready"...I need spell check on the comment page

Brenda said...

Oh girl you are just too good Robin is right a book reviewer you should be. I was just setting there on the edge of the couch reading as your words pulled into the page yes. I wanted to get the book then but I don't have a daughter still sounds like a good read. Fonda you should realy write a book it wouldn't be boring but delightful and expressive.
Thanks for everything...

klham said...

I will have to read the book, though it will take me a lot longer than two sittings. hopefully it will help me not to scar Brooke too much (which by the way I don't think you have caused me pain but prevented)