Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I've Got A Secret

Actually, I've got a whole book of secrets. Tonight, Daughter #1 and I went to hear Frank Warren talk about his new book, "A Lifetime of Secrets" and his not-to-be-missed web blog, PostSecret . Frank spoke to the humanity involved in the creation of, the keeping of, and the release of secrets. As he shared previously unpublished postcards of secrets, the crowd of about 200 alternately "oooh'd", "aaah'd", laughed, or looked pensive. Because the secrets on his website and books mirror the secrets we carry in our own lives.

I don't want to compete with Frank and collect secrets (he does it so well and with such commitment), but I started wondering about the impact that secrets have on us. Daughter #2 couldn't keep a secret longer than 5 seconds if her life depended on it. Secrets literally fall out of her mouth. When she was about 5 years old, I made the mistake of telling her that she and her sister were giving Daddy an expensive shirt for his birthday. Later that day, we gathered as Husband piled up his birthday loot and grabbed the girls' present first.

"Oooh, I wonder what this could be?"


Actually, what she said was more like "A SCHWERT, DADDY! IT'S A SCHWERT!" because her front teeth were missing. She's 21 now, and still can't keep a secret, often asking us, "Can I just tell you what it is because it's burning a hole in my pocket?!".

Daughter #1 deals with secrets differently. She snoops. I have to admit, she's pretty good at it, and over the years, it's become a family challenge to try to keep a secret from her. (This should drive her crazy when she reads this post. . .do we or don't we have a secret she doesn't know about?)

In the twilight time of my Dad's Alzheimer's, before his speech failed but after his memory had been severely impacted, he shared many secrets with me. For that, I am profoundly grateful, and I think about those conversations from time to time since his death.

MoM, on the other hand, will lately tell me something matter-of-factly to which I respond, "What?! You never told me that!" She doesn't consider these tidbits secrets, but since she rarely shared anything personal with me for most of my life, I'm calling them as I see them. . .secrets.

I've heard secrets today and I've held secrets today. I didn't share any secrets today. . .maybe tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

Great subject!

Secrets are fascinating!

I've also found that family secrets that once seemed devastating seem to lessen with time-or they should.

I speak to caregivers and support groups all over the country, and families (including mine) are complicated, but as time goes on, the rifts, love childs, and faux pas of life become incorporated in life and the closer we are to our own mortality, the more we seek--and should be willng--to extend mercy.

Even toward the end, I noticed my mother revealing more and more about herself, and her mother. She didn't "confess" anything, but her stories, the tone of her voice, her word choice revealed so much.

Sometimes it's what we don't say that tells the tale.

Carol D. O'Dell

Author of MOTHERING MOTHER: A Daughter's Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

Available on Amazon and in most bookstores

Gina said...

I got to meet and work with Frank Warren when he was here for our literary festival....he was amazing...so thoughtful and his presentation was fabulous.....he was very dedicated to his work...(collecting the postcards and secrets) and protective of them too...making sure the secrets/postcards were treated respectfully.....glad you got a chance to see him....

have you sent a postcard in yet?

julieunplugged said...

I love postsecret. Great topic. I found you through Amerpsand's space. Like your writing style. :)

julieunplugged said...

I meant to add, sometimes I wish people did keep their own secrets better. Sometimes there are things I really don't want to know about them, particularly my kids. :)