Monday, June 28, 2010

Southern Silk and Steel

Seven AM on a Saturday morning, nothing is on the television, and I’m not ready to get up. I’m not ready to get up because we had storms last night. My dog doesn’t care for storms and turns into a quivering mess with a heavy rain. She must share the impending storm threat with me, thus cutting back on sleep time. So, with eyes that would close with very little convincing, I found myself up and watching Steel Magnolias. I do like the movie; I just don’t watch it very often because it makes me cry.

Even in the midst of a sleep filled haze, there are some lines in that movie script which cut through and are just too good to pass up. One is by Ouiser, it goes something like “I am a southern woman; I am supposed to wear big hats, ugly clothes and grow tomatoes. I don’t make the rules.” I love that! I want a big hat and to grow tomatoes (though I don’t care to eat them). But, for some reason summer means to grow tomatoes and wear hats. I suppose that that rule is one I recognize as well.
Another is when the women are interacting at the funeral. It’s one of those laugh and cry moments. First is the mother, she is trying to put on a good face for those around her. We do that don’t we? I can relate. I put on a good face sometimes too. “How are you?” “Fine…” If they don’t push further, I don’t provide more – why would I, they are not really looking for an answer beyond that at the surface level. But, amongst friends (and guys I’m sorry to leave you out, but I’m not sure that you really go about this the same way), amongst women, we have a way of taking something that is breaking us in half and saying we are fine. But, when we are in the middle of a group of women we trust, the barriers come down and something extraordinary happens.
A thread of silk, the only strength that she has left is to lay her heart, broken and bleeding on the floor with a thread of hope as the only source of strength. But, then comes another woman, who adds a layer, and then another and another. Each pulls out a thread of strength and places it on the table, made of the finest of skills. Each is a different color, each a different tinsel weight, but together they form a fabric that is soft and strong. So, the mother at the funeral, she is finally surrounded by these women, and in a moment with brave and angry honesty, she places her thread out. The others, then in a moment of comic humor, toss out their life lines as well. They laugh and cry, and then the raw wound begins healing. The bleeding is being staunched by the silk of feminine strength and friendship. Steel magnolias indeed.
Perhaps it wasn’t such a bad way to begin the day after all.