Monday, September 13, 2010

My First Speech ***UPDATED*** Now includes a picture of the doll

Troy University requires a speech class to be a PoliSci major. I am taking this class locally at the community college, because I couldn't see taking a speech class online. Wouldn't that be wierd?
First speeches were due last Wednesday (9/8) and I went first because I was so nervous. Let me talk about politics or football, but an "artifact speech" dealing with something that can represent ME? Scary.

This is the speech I gave.

"Poor is a relative term. Growing up, I didn’t know that we were poor. We had a nice house. We got new shoes and new clothes every year before school started, and we always received nice things at Christmas. Most of the time that included more new clothes, but there were toys and bikes also. We also took a vacation every year from the time I was 6 until after I graduated from high school. The vacation was always to visit my dad’s family in northern Indiana, but, stopping at Opryland or the Caverns in Kentucky, we managed to have a day or two of fun also. I didn’t know that sometimes my mother stayed awake all night wondering where the money was going to come from to feed us and pay the bills, or how every single year we came close to losing the house because my parents always paid the taxes late.

But if poor is a relative term and we were considered poor, then there must be another term to use for the abject poverty my mother grew up in. There were no new clothes. There were no shoes. Not only did her family not have vacations or toys, but they didn’t have running water or indoor plumbing or toilet paper. She played with glass coke bottles as a child, holding them like baby dolls, pretending to feed them and change their diapers as she saw her sisters do with her younger brothers — and then with their own children, as they married young to escape.

On May 2, 1959, my mother’s 12th birthday, she received a real doll — a beautiful, porcelain doll that had turned 50 the previous year. This was a gift from her great-grandmother, because they shared the middle name, Lee. My mother carried that doll everywhere for the next 34 years. She moved to New Jersey in high school to live with one of her sisters. She met and married my father, had me and my brother, and moved from pillar to post and back again. When I was young, the doll lived in a shoe box in the linen closet wrapped in a dingy brown cloth where she wore an equally dingy brown dress,. Sometimes I asked my mom if I could look at the doll, sometimes I just looked at her when my mother was not home, but I was always careful, almost reverent when I took her from her box. Through the years this doll began to symbolize my mother to me— her strength, her beauty, her ability to withstand the years and live in conditions that were not the best in the world, but still to endure. To grow. To prosper.

As I got older— after we all managed to survive my teen years— my mother endured my marriage to a man she never liked or approved of, the birth of my only child, the sale of our family home, and a diagnosis of darkness in the not too distant future. She has not driven in 15 years. She chose to give up her driver’s license rather than risk the lives of others. Sometimes she is sad. Sometimes she is angry. Sometimes she questions why she has this horrifying disease, because there are others in the world who have never worked and never contributed. Her fondest wish is to have her eyesight restored so that she could go to the grocery store alone and work every single day for the rest of her life.

Sometimes I get tired. Or annoyed by having to run errands, go grocery shopping or car pool. Sometimes I think I want to never have to leave my house. Then I remember that while those things are chores, they are also a privilege. And I look at the doll my mother gave me on my 26th birthday, in its beautiful, white dress, in its glass case and I know that I can be as strong as I have to be, as strong as my mother has always been. "


fallenmonk said...

Nice job, that should get you a nice grade. I am just starting Jimmy Carter's book "An Hour before Daylight" about his childhood on the farm in Plains. Got me to thinking about my family in the hills of West Virginia and how Gawd awful poor they were. I need to remember how bad it was for them and how good I have it when I get to feeling sorry for myself as in "I haven't been to Europe in 2 years" sorry for myself.

Nance said...

That was absolutely beautiful. In addition to feeling true and real, it was a perfect story. I hope your mother can see how well she has done with her daughter.

LeftLeaningLady said...

Very true, Fallenmonk, sometimes we have to appreciate what we have instead of wishing for more.

Nance, my mother would KILL me if she knew I gave all those details about her early life in public.:-)
I was going to post the speech on FB, but she is my friend there and I am too old for a spanking!

Loulou La Poule said...

Lovely doll; she looks fresh as a daisy and brand new. That's porcelain for you; you won't find that many Barbie Dolls looking that good after so many years. In fact, they NEVER looked that good.