Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

"Then, focusing her gaze on Sidda, Caro said, ‘You’ve got Ya-Ya blood, Siddalee. Whether you like it or not. And sure, it’s tainted. But what the hell in life isn’t?’ "

After finishing Moby Dick, we decided to go for a lighter read so we picked up Divine Secrets. I think the literary gods were having a good laugh at us on that one.

Nonetheless, from the first page on, I was hooked. Divine Secrets tells the story of an estranged mother and daughter both on the hunt for redemption and acceptance. Mostly in the eyes of the each other. It’s a beautiful story because, eventually, they both find what they were looking for. The road, however, isn’t always simple or pretty and there is a lot of tough stuff along the journey. The story is laced with dramatic narratives of child abuse, alcoholism, violence, death, and neglect.

But, when all was said and done as I closed the book I felt hope. And I think that points back to not only to the author’s story telling but the redemptive power of family and, especially, mothers and daughters. It’s a sacred, unbreakable bond that has power no matter if your mother or daughter is alive, dead, estranged, or you’ve lost touch.

After we finished the book, mom and I decided to get together and watch the movie because we love movies and wine. And her house is full of both. So we settled in with homemade soft pretzels (you’re welcome mom) and turned on the TV. As we were getting the movie going, we started chatting about the book. We began to talk about the story and as we talked, we both almost simultaneously remembered a story. Now before I tell it, I want to make three things crystal clear:

1.     My parents were not abusive or neglectful
2.     I was a brat in high school to my mom
3.     Mom encouraged me to tell this story

Now with all that build up, the story is quite simple and short. One afternoon at home Mom had gotten really upset with me for a reason neither of us remember. As we were duking it out, she slammed me up against the wall and slapped my face. I remember being shocked at first because that was very out of character for her and if I’m being honest I was little scared as well. In the moments following, she slowly backed away and walked to the other side of the house. I stood in the hallway by my bedroom for probably 5 minutes not knowing what to do. Then I walked into my room, shut the door, and cried. I’m sure she did the same.

A while later she knocked on my door and came in and sat on my bed with me. I remember her face looked so sad. Before I had the chance to say anything or ask what was wrong, she simply told me she was so sorry, that she wasn’t perfect, and she felt awful for how she reacted to whatever I had done. She told me that there was no excuse for what she did. Then she told me she loved me and I told her I loved her too. That was that. We went on with our day and lives together not looking back. In fact, we didn’t speak about it again until we were sitting next to each other on the couch last week.

I tell that story to hopefully encourage you, not to try to compare my experience to Sidda who’s mom was an abusive alcoholic by any measure. I hope that all the moms reading remember that it’s not the end of the world if you lose your temper with your kid. They’ll live and if you handle it at all like my mom did, one day you can laugh about it over a lovely bottle of wine and hot pretzels.  If that doesn’t give you hope what will?

Thank you to the Divine Sisterhood for reminding my mom and I that nothing’s perfect, everything’s better with a glass of champagne, and our relationship is pretty special. Ya ya!