Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Strength of a Butterfly's Wing

A middle-aged woman in 2012 can’t wear a necklace without feeling choked.  Why? Because on May 25, 1919 at 3:55 pm, her grandmother decided to come in from playing in the yard.  She was hot and thirsty and tore into the kitchen for water from the sink pump.  She ran down the hall and skipped into the bedroom she shared with her twin great aunts, one of whom was hanging by the neck at an odd angle from the bed post, having fashioned a noose from a strap and rolled her morbidly obese frame off the bed, suffocating herself in the process.  The little girl spends the rest of her life unable to wear turtlenecks, and her granddaughter has an aversion to necklaces in 2012.

Very small decisions we make every second of our lives can have profound and lasting influences over the paths of our lives and the lives of those around us.  Did my decision last night to stay home rather than drive to Boone save mine and my daughter’s life by keeping us out of the car wreck we would have had on the way?  Probably not, but there is no way to know.  My young friend’s decision to wear her seat belt last Saturday morning before her serious car accident definitely saved her life and kept intact the life her family lives.  Can you save a local store by choosing to shop there once a week, thus saving the owner from bankruptcy and the depression that kind of failure often engenders?  The Butterfly Effect is in full force at all times, even if we don’t know it. 

I’ve only read 50 pages of 11/22/63, and already these are the kinds of questions it has inspired to keep me awake at night.  I am loving this book so far, and I’m a hard reader to impress.


Bonnie Jacobs said...

You and I think of the same kinds of thing, it appears. Imagine a woman still being influenced by something that happened to her GRANDMOTHER when she was just a little girl. Fascinating.

Amy said...

That first paragraph is part of my own family history about something that happened in my maternal grandmother's family before she was born. I edited it to fit the paragraph. The more complicated part is that her phobia came only from hearing the story from her sister, who was never able to stand anything around her neck, because she was the child who found the dead aunt. I find it fascinating what weaves its way into our psyches unbeknownst to us. The saddest part of this story for me personally is that my grandmother never talked to me about why she couldn't wear turtlenecks or why I might feel choked by anything tight around my own neck. When I was 19 and in college writing a family history, the sister finally cleared it up for me. My grandmother then forbade me to include that story, as well as others, in the paper because she was so mortified by the suicide in her family. She died in 2008 so I feel free now to write about it.

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