I took this photo in July of 2020. I loved it and named it String of Beads. Lovely beads of dew strung on the silken strings of a spider web.
Stringing Beads ~ Joy DeKok
A memoir about me? Am I famous? Nope. Have I done great things? No. They why? Because – that’s why. Not a very satisfying answer is it? But for today, it’s the one. No reasons. No excuses. No explanations or self-defense.
These memoir posts are about the unwinding I feel in my spirit.
It is like the way Mama used to wind down after a busy day. Hers started with the newspaper. She sat in her chair and read with a cup of coffee (or an iced tea in summer) on the end table and the paper held high, covering her. Looking back, I wonder if it gave her the same feeling a blanket fort gave me – the place I loved to go to enter my pretend world, although, in all honesty, I rarely left that world for long, no matter where I was.
Were those printed pages a soft barrier from her day-to-day life where she stepped into the much larger world? I never asked, perhaps because it didn’t cross my mind until now.
Later, after supper, when the dishes were washed and dried and favorite TV shows were over, she’d remove her shoes – another step in her unwinding. They would be nearby if she needed to answer the door because she was almost always ready but shoes off was her way of settling gently into the night. She might read the rest of the newspaper or a book from the library.
My unwinding, in words, will be peaceful and prickly. Gentle and bold. Tender and raw. Lovely and not. Polite and unruly. Revealing and concealing. Glad and grumpy. Disappointment will show up, and so will contentment. These posts will overflow with faith and will admit to the occasional doubt. You’ll see me unraveled by life and mended by God. Speaking of Him . . .
If you read these posts, be prepared – I’m a testifier. Jesus will show up on most of these pages. That’s the way it is with God and me. Not because I am great – I am NOT. But God is the greatest.
I will ask questions – lots of questions and many times will have no answers. There will be times of remembrance when love won and when it got misplaced and at times lost. I’ll share times of rejection and acceptance.
These memories are not so much a confession of sin, for that belongs to God, but an admittance that I do sin. I will write about failures and successes, not always recognizing them correctly because sometimes when I put them into words, they reveal victories I missed.
There will be anger now and then. Sometimes righteous and other times not. And forgiveness – God’s and the ways He helps me forgive.
My grammar and punctuation will likely cause a few to shake their heads. I write the way I talk.
These stories of my life are not a rebellion or a revolution. I’ve read some that are one or both, and I’ve left them intimidated.
My goal is simple: to be me in words.
To name this memoir, which those who have taught me is essential, I prayed and waited, not for a lightening but a gentle knowing in my heart. The answer came as a remembering because that’s what memoirs are.
I saw myself as a little girl sitting on the linoleum floor at my grandma Joy’s house with a shoebox of beads, my own set of needles from Ben Franklin, and a couple of spools of thread – white and black.
She encouraged me to cut the strings holding the beads together and restring them in a new way. I don’t remember any specific instructions, but I put them together in ways that felt good and acceptable. Tame. Safe. Nice. Calm. Pretty.
There was, however, this other day.
I cut all my restrung necklaces apart, letting them fall into the shoe box. Then, I pulled a very long string from my black spool, knotting it at one end. My excitement grew as one bead left my needle, slid down the thread, and another followed, and none of them went together except that they did. Perfectly I thought. A yellowed pearl chased a tomato red glass bead, and a fake topaz was next in line with a plastic white one following close behind. My creation got heavier, and I somehow knew to add a knot here and there to give my work of wonder a bit of strength.
It was an hour of humming along and tapping my foot to the secret rhythm inside me.
There was no order. No rules. It felt outrageous. Bold. Wild. Free. Brave. Silly. Happy. Different in a way that mattered. It was the exact right necklace for me.
Finally, I tied the last knot at the end of my string to the first knot and slipped it over my head. It didn’t hang around my throat in my normal dainty, lady-like fashion. Nope. It draped all the way to my waist and hung wonderfully heavy and bulky.
I stood in front of the mirror and wound it twice and then three times over my head, and it still rested on my chest. I pulled the first loop a little tighter and had a choker with doubled longer lengths below.
I loved my string of mismatched beads.
When I modeled my necklace for Mama and Grandma, they looked at me, then at each other, and finally at me again, eyebrows slightly raised. My stomach lurched a little, my happy wiggling halted, and I tensed. They meant no harm but wondered where I would wear it? My answer: everywhere. One of them asked what clothes of mine it matched? My answer: all of them.
Daddy entered the design discussion with one word: gawdy. (I spelled it the way he said it – the w emphasized.)
Again, no one meant to hurt my heart. These people I loved so dearly and who loved me were expressing opinions that opposed mine, and I had no idea how to handle that. I was probably ten years old at the time. But I’d been so sure they would see the loveliness I saw and would recognize that I was beautiful wearing my energetic, enthusiastic necklace of many colors, sizes, and shapes.
I tucked my beautiful to me string of beads away. A few days later, I cut the thread and set the beads free using Grandma’s manicure scissors. I remember putting the lid on the box, but I don’t remember opening it again. No one demanded this of me. It was my decision.
Over the years, I wore bead necklaces that matched my outfits, and most of the time, I was fine with them.
But I missed those beads I’d loved.
That was when I knew my memoir would be me humming and tapping my internal foot to the internal rhythm inside of me and stringing one unmatched story after another on the thread of my life.
I hope you’ll read the stories that are my life and if you are writing yours, please let me know in the comments where I can find them.
Until Next Time,