I asked God the other morning what I thought was a profound and very to the point question. I asked him “why?” Not for one specific sort of subject, but why for all of it; the twists and turns, the ups and downs, the heart wrenching eveythings in this life. His answer was a thought he sent reverberating through my subconcious. ‘I have been making do with whatever was in front of me’. So, I sat down and began flipping through my life, just the highlights mind you, to see just what he was getting at.
We were never ever the family that had any extra anything, certainly not money. We were middle class, but more like clinging to the bottom rung of that designation, definately not in comfortable middle or the upper reaches that were streaching to the bottom rung of well to do.
My parents were divorced in the mid 1950’s, a time of upward prosperity, of a certain amont of mobility and of the vision of working toward a better life than that of parents. But, not for women who were the “divorcee’. The glass ceiling was more like a brick and mortor one. There was no job that paid well enough for her to support three growing children, my Dad could not send the $5 a week set out in the divorce papers for he was having trouble finding accounting work that paid enough.
I think that was when I found my Making Do.
I was a child of 9, not really too very much aware of the real world. I did know that my Daddy was not in the house anymore, that my Mom was working and I was at my friend Mary Whitacker”s house after school. The Christmas of 1958 was what Dolly Parton sang about, a “Hard Rock Candy Christmas”. Not a lot presents, I think maybe one or two apiece for each of us; Christmas Eve service, with the traditional German treat of a Golden Glitter globe filled with chocolates; my Dad showing up after we were all in bed with a profusion of things for me. I remember a white leather coat, a dress with a black velvet bodice and a white viole skirt. I think there might have been something for Mike, but not Edwin, in the lot.
If I hadn’t of woken up to his voice, I think my Mom would have thrown the lot of the things away and we would have never known he was even there. But I did wake up, and came out to see my Daddy. I felt so special and so pretty when he had me put them on to show him. He and I were smiling and laughing and hugging and my Mom sat in the chair with a face like hurrcaine thunder.
She took them all away from me, of course. She told me the colors were too old for a little girl and boxed them up and they disappeared. I knew better than to make any sort of scene to try and keep them. Making Do whipsered to take what I had and kept quiet.
Then, we moved from Orlando, the only place I had ever really known, to California, not quite a year later. To my Gramma Hallie’s old, old crumbling Victorian house in a little hill town north of San Diego. It was the stuff of kid nightmares. Dark, creaky, drafty, wallpaper blowing in the East Wind, big hole underneath—off limits of course—and a Gramma who was even grummpier than my Mom. The bright spot in this was my Cousin Jan and Her Mom Joyce.
It was there, in that house of darkness, I learned to keep quiet, to stay out of angry adults way, to play by myself, to generally lay as low as possible for my Mom could put Vesuvius to shame when she errupted. It was when I was entertaining myself outside in my Gramma’s overgrown arbor that the old man next door spied me. He lured me with what I was not getting at home; love, acceptance, encouragement, value. His wife even gave me jewelry, an amethyst necklace, a Fire Opal ring from Russia and pearls. His moletation didn’t last too long; to this day I think my Gramma figured it out from the jewelry, and, being Hallie Jean she did not mince words to him and his wife and told him, I am sure, to keep his hands to himself. My Mom picked me up from school to tell me he had shot himsefl in the shed on the back of their property, the same shed where he was touching me.
Making Do said, stay quiet, it is over now. So I did.
When Mom remarried, she married a man that would molest me also. I don’t believe she knew. I do know I was afraid she would blame me, tell me I asked for it, or that some behavior of mine had done it. So, I and Making Do did the best we could to stay away from him, to not be home alone with him, to fight like a jungle cat when woke me up from a sound teenager sleep pawing at me after my Mom went to work.
Making Do counseled to be quiet and work at getting out away from him, so I went to work after High school. Where Making Do came to work with me in a factory.
When I met my husband a few years later, Making Do and I thought that this might be a good, trustworthy man. Someone who cares about me, someone I could trust. For the first few weeks it was just like we thought. Until Thanksgiving when his Mom got drunk and passed out on her kitchen floor. When we got home to our little North Hollywood apartment, the nightmare began. After seven years, two beautiul boys and abuse piled on abuse, Making Do and I packed up the little Volkswagen Bug and left.
Making Do and I have been together now for sixty-seven years. We have made do without a lot of stuff, some of which people have actually commented on. One friend actually asked me “where is all your stuff?” It seems he was used to women having and incrediable amount of material goods.
Making Do and I have learned to not just make do, but to be creative with the making do. It was Making Do, my Mom and I who put up garden bender board on the wall of my first condo. As my cousin Kevin sat scoffing and informing us it just couldn’t be done. It was Making Do and I who wallpapered a country kitchen, while the same cousin scoffed again saying I couldn’t do such a big job myself, but never once voluteering to help. It was Making Do and I who had the wall in my second condo painted a gorgeous Chianti Red that reflected the sunlight into the living room, flooding it with soft Chianti. It was Making Do and I, with my real true friends, who packed up that condo and set out across the United States with two small dogs and the Very Best Cousin any one could ever have. It was Making Do and I who made it through that lonely, cold winter in Ohio with those two small dogs and that Very Best Cousin on the other end of the phone. It was Making Do and I who piled into the van called Jaws with those two dogs and moved south to warmth and sunshine and welcoming people. It is Making Do and I who are slowly making this little moblie house into the home we want it to be.
Making Do has been my buddy, my counselor, my creative consultant, my encourager, my inspiration, my muse through every part of my life. I am convinced that Making Do is really my guardian Angel (whose name will remain between the two of us).
When Making Do and I run into people who give us the usual platitudes of “you don’t want to do that” or “that will never work” or “haven’t you finished that yet”; we just smile at each other and keep on making do.
For all we are given is the ablitiy to make do. The vision to make it do the best for us, right now, in this place. It is in making do with what gifts life blesses us with that the we live each day.
From Making Do and I, with love and a great big dose of inspiriation…..
Keep Making Do!!!!