Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Dear Mother Ursula, (wherever you are)

Remember that time when you wanted to know about something personal and secret about us? You patiently waited for my answer as you sat behind the large wooden desk that seemed to shield the teachers from the students and the world. Most of the girls responded as honestly as they could, "I am kind, I am smart, I know how to cook, I can outrun my brother, I am good at math..." When it was my turn, I couldn't think of a gift, something I was good at or anything I loved. I must have lacked imagination then, because I couldn't even come up with a lie. Maybe my "gift" was honesty, but this was the first time anyone had ever implied that I had to have something good that made me special and the very question was unimaginable to me. I thought you were a saint, Mother Ursula, for asking such an innovative and soul provoking question.

"Patience. That is your virtue." you said, rescuing me after a long, uncomfortable pause. Then you proceeded to tell me why/how you saw patience in me. But let me tell you (now that I'm no longer a little afraid of you) that you were wrong. You mistook patience for lack of confidence, shyness and passivity. Your opinion has actually turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy though, because many people, including myself, have perceived me as "patient" most of my life.

But it is imperative that you take back your words, your proclamation of the goodness you saw in me. You committed a grave mistake and now even the Universe has unrealistic expectations of me.

Lovingly and kindly I am supposed to respond to complaints - repeated daily, it seems hourly, more like every minute - which are dramatically executed by mother-in-law. Her litany of hypochondriac ailments is endless - her stomach, her veins, her legs, her left heel, an itch, no sleep (though she often appears for breakfast after ten), etc. On and on she proceeds as I...
S C R E A M (internally, of course) with frustration at having to be her helpless, captive audience. Can this be the attitude of someone who is patient?

Lately, my mother too has jumped onto the complaining band wagon and has acquired a strange malaise, that miraculously happens consistently right before her scheduled shower (which she is increasingly less fond of taking). My I R R I T A T I O N is hard to disguise as I go back to her room several times before she finally consents to her grooming (which, by the way, is no picnic for me to witness and endure). Does this sound like patience to you?

I thought nuns were always right, but obviously you were dead wrong. I am not patient! What I am is angry, furious, disappointed, livid, enraged.

I write to you because I wonder if your false prediction has something to do with the fact that I am stuck in a revolving door of existence, in which every day, I confront the exact same challenges. It's as if all forces conspired to test my patience, which I don't even have.

I don't mean to say that you put a hex on me. But did you? Even if you did, I know you didn't mean it and any repercussions were unintended. So, could you please take back your words? Release me from ...

Oh, Mother Ursula, here I am impatiently complaining to you about the complainers in my life. I'm so sorry. I know it's all in my interpretation of it. I could just see all this as the opportunity of a lifetime - a chance to be virtuous, a chance to help those who have no one else, a chance to love.

Mother Ursula, please don't be offended, but if I am to be virtuous I must enrich my honesty. And honestly, right now, this moment I feel like ...virtues suck!!! Still, I hope you have kept all of yours.