Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

Anne’s Journal Quilt made when Mother Died

It is easy to fill our lives with our “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s. I suspect that most of us do this at some time or other in our lifetimes.

I was born in an era when women were still struggling to be women who had a lot of choices in life. When I was starting high school, my mother took me to register for my classes. There was a choice to choose a college route or the regular route. I wanted to go to college and become a nurse, likely a military nurse since I had grown up in a military family that went way back. My mother said no. She said I needed to become a secretary and find a man and get married. Really! It is hard to imagine, but that is what she believed. She had gotten married and I don’t think my mother or father finished high school. She had some problem with her mastoids when she was about my age, and in those days, was in the hospital for awhile and had surgery for it. So she and my father got married when she got well.

My father had come home from school one day when he was I think 16 or 17, and his family had moved away and abandoned him. He had other brothers and a sister who had killed herself. I really don’t know the whole story, but he lied about his age, because it was during the Great Depression, and he joined the military. He got his room and board, but in order to be able to join, he had to give all his money to a poor family who never ever thanked him.

That is most of what I know about my mother and father. So I did all the things I was supposed to and hated every minute of it. Secretaries in those days took shorthand, typed letters and used carbon to make copies and a machine I can’t remember the name of to make copies. They fetched coffee for their bosses every day and for meetings they fetched it for all the men at the meetings. And once in awhile, men treated women disrespectfully, touching them in ways that were inappropriate, and getting away with it because it was the times.

Then suddenly women’s lib came along, and so did wearing pant suits, and women were threatened with being fired if they wore those in the office. Gee, no more legs to look at or exposed body parts to be touched. But women persevered. I divorced an abusive husband, but I suppose in reality he was no more abusive than most men who believed their women should stay at home and have dinner ready for them when they walked in the door, raise their children and do their washing and ironing, and stay in the home except to take the children to the playground. Money was given to the wife to get the groceries, and sometimes the woman might get money to buy a donut or small toy for the children but there was no money for anything that might have taken care of things she might like to have.

I DID get to go to a University finally. And I DID get a degree in Archaeology. And I did work at interesting related work in Mexico and Arizona until I became ill with Valley Fever and Paratyphoid, and then I decided to do other less physically dangerous work. But I had a lot of fun along the way. One day somewhere along the way I grew up and became a bonafide human being who could buy things for herself, and who could dream of things she wanted to do and to become, and she could actually do them. She could say no to men who did anything inappropriate, and she could be her own person in general. I got married again a couple of times over the years and had some really interesting and accomplished men – an archaeologist and an anthropologist. And I learned more of the world and who I was as a human being. No more Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. I grew into a woman who had exciting careers and who had her own businesses. And step by step, little by little, I became a fully evolved human being.

It has not been easy along the way, but that is what gives us strength in the end result. I am now 77, and I have a man in my life – my significant other, Richard – and he is none of those men I married before. He is a human being – a simple man with simple tastes and a really big heart. He doesn’t talk a lot, but when he does, what he says is real. And he has shown his goodness in so many ways without even saying anything about it. He is not a Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda man. He lives from day to day, happy with the simplest of things. I am free to be who I am and he is free to be who he is. Sometimes the simplest things are the best things in this lifetime.

I will never live in the Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda world again. I decided to get another degree at 74 and graduated in 2016, the same year I had breast cancer. It was Criminal Justice. I was going to be a mentor/advocate for juvenile delinquents (and I have worked with them before in other ways) but other things changed all that, so instead I am a CASA court-appointed volunteer mentor/advocate for foster children. I don’t have an assignment currently, but when I am not a caregiver for my Richard, I can do that if I choose. I am who I am and I am happy with that now. I don’t need to blame anyone else now for what I did not become. Perhaps that was never meant to be. Perhaps, just perhaps I was meant to be on the course of life I am now. It is all good, even on its worst days. I will look back on them tomorrow and be glad that I have seen many sides of life. I will be glad for the little things – a beautiful sky, a gentle breeze, a hand that reaches out and holds mine . . .

14 thoughts on “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

    1. I really understand Lea. So many of us as females, even if others have not lived as many years as I have, have gone through some of these things, but have made it to their freedom of choices today. It is a good thing for us all, but we have to use it to make a difference for other younger women who are coming up in this world.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Same page ..different story but I get what you are saying and I am finally that woman ..that free spirit…Maybe we were meant to tread that path which made us who we are today…A lovely, meaningful post of what many women endured if they grew up during those times…Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so kindly, Carol. I have been really swamped with being a full-time caregiver for my significant other, Richard, and trying to take care of some big legal issues (like trying to get my title and registration for my mobile home that was paid for more than eight months ago from our park owner. He is a real crook, and they treat us seniors in a way that could classify as elder abuse, swearing at us, telling us to fix their mistakes on contracts, etc. and generally ignoring our park so that it is a true slum now. I doubt i could sell this place except to some drug dealer because of the way he has allowed the park to run down. Yes, I appreciate being able to have friends who are soul sisters for what we endured. And can you imagine what it must have been like before women got the vote or what they went through to even get it? WOW! Well, so be it. I am glad we made it out into the sunshine! The rain isn’t too bad either these days!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A great article. Glad I missed all that but I think it was different in Canada. I did have to deal with juggling a busy career and raising kids but managed it all OK. My kids say they were always very proud of me and understood if I couldn’t make it to every event. I always had my own money, credit cards etc. I do recall being very tired often but we were the generation that wanted it all. I’m not sorry.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so kindly, Eliza. The smallest things bring stories to me. The name of the creator of this pair of shoes was that of a man and a woman – I am sorry I can no longer remember their names, but I would always call the left shoe the man’s name and the right shoe the woman’s name and they seemed like little people to me. I tried to imagine them and what their lives might have been like and somehow I figured they must have been a little old couple and they had been in love with each other for many years. So when one of the shoes “died,” I had to take the other and make a character that would keep them together and special for years, so this is why My Shoe’s Got Soul has parts of the other one included in the design. They will always be together now. Hugs and always light and love, Anne

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