This is going to be a long book, so everyone ought to just take a few minutes each day to read it. It will do you good. Discipline. Every time I have said anything in my life, I cautioned myself. You always have to, take a moment and think about how it might hurt other people. So, as usual, I am thinking now about how this might be received by my mother (who is dead), my children, Joseph, James and Aingeal, and those others I do not have anymore. I especially think about how this will effect my sister, Stephanie, for she is my sister, if her father is Frank Hickey. I have thought about it all my life, really, so there is no point in telling me anything, anything I already know. I suspect that I will be long gone before or if she ever reads this, so it doesn’t really matter.  She doesn’t have any children of her own-can’t hurt them. She lives with someone who probably has a moral conscience but suppresses his natural feelings to protect his relationship with her, because he loves her. Neil Guideman doesn’t matter. I am using her last name here, one of my options. But, I still do not know whether the book is written by Ava Hickey or Ava Brown, that only time will tell, for certainly I have lived my life as both of them. My life may not be much longer and my children will always know me. I have been a forceful personality. I have lived a pretty full life. Some regrets. Anything but normal.

I firmly believe in a good day of writing you get one chance to GO. You must pull all stops and say whatever is on your mind. It is your writing. No one can take that away from you. Everything else, even life, is short. Happiness is even shorter, but you should constantly thank God for what you have, as often as you remember. Think about the people that love you. I love my sister. I cannot say that about my father. I used to love him. But weighing it up, she is more important, getting to know her, letting her know me, is more important than the money. $800,000,000 million dollars is a lot of money to give up for a sister, even. But what is money? Trouble. Always trouble for me. My life’s pleasures have been the very small hyacinths, the flowers, the food, the love, the feelings-good and bad, the news waited for, moments awakened lying next to someone you love, children and babies, great ballet, music and dancing, art-the looking at it and the making of it. So many small purchases, added up, each one means happiness and belief, hope.

You should never worry about what you buy at the store of life, any purchase will be good. I have been impulsive, and bought many things without thinking about them, just wanted them, enjoyed them and was fortunate enough to have loved ones to share them with. I hope I pass that on. God puts your feet down, and I am running! That is what is important in life. Keep moving, doing, whatever it is, just keep doing it and don’t let your feet drag. Some lives are materially better than others, I suppose, but those lives are not any more significant than ones conditioned by missing components. I have always checked the box to make sure all of my pieces are there, and I have believed that some of them were missing. I am writing this in one way to let everyone know, they were not missing. If there is one thing we all need to know when we are born, that is that we are complete, whole, perfect, no matter what. We start perfect and we need to remember that we are perfect and that is that. We should live up to it.

I think of so many times that I have had emotions or reactions to situations, hearing things, seeing things, and my reactions are all about my perceptions. Just mine. They do not have to relate to anything or anyone at all, not even the truth. My earliest feeling that I must remember is love, for that being with a person each day was taken for granted, and children should take for granted their relationship to their mother, or their father, their parents, whoever is responsible for them day to day-their nanny, a sibling. They should have all the love they can. A village. My village has had many people in it. I remember that feeling of love as I one day in Florida, look up, and see my mother’s face, so intent on being a mother, I know. She is walking, and I am holding her hand or not. Her long dark hair is flowing behind her, very long, and she is my goddess. She was really perfect and I could see that, even then. I remember that moment of love, adoration, longing to be like her. I was part of her and I was proud. She was mine. I wonder what each of my children’s best memory of me was, or what comes to mind first when they remember me. I hope they know I love them to love themselves.

I loved myself. I know I did. What was not to love? No questions, no doubt. She loved me. She always made it very clear, because she thought it was important, that she loved me, she wanted me, I was important to her. We were at the beach and she had this bikini, bright blue with tiny white polka dots on one side and it tied in the front of the bra and on the sides of the bottom. The inside was bright lime green. I would like to recreate it for you. She was brunette, really “brown” she called it, with brown eyes, and in her eyes was a hint of moss green, which she hated. She had a turned up nose, fairly straight actually, with a button on the end, like Marilyn Monroe. She had high cheekbones, and a beautiful smile. Her teeth were smallish and there was a small divide between the front two. Because she had hit her mouth on a theater seat, she had a slight overjet. This made her laugh bigger, and her smile was beautiful and her mouth was lovely. She had well-formed lips, soft for kisses. Her mouth was pretty. She constantly was aware of her overjet and she made it prettier, she believed by enunciating, and using her lips to form her words. She said some people had mouths you wanted to watch. I hated some of the things she said, but I remember her mouth. I always looked at it.

She was on the beach, we were, and I was by her side in my little green bikini. Mine had polka dots, too. I remember her getting comfortable on the beach. We looked at each other. I went into the water. She didn’t really like to. She burned in the sun and never really got a tan. She watched me and cautioned me about getting into the water. Her whole experience in my whole life was about cautioning me. Protecting me. Even at the beach. But she had this horrible scar searing down the middle of her belly, starting at about her belly button and traveling down her stomach, like a bolt of lightening. It pooched on both sides grotesquely, and ended just at her bikini line. She had a little belly, never going to be flat because of it, never going to be pretty. It was where she had her appendix out. I did not cause that, although the scars she had from me were more wicked, more innocently induced, but just the same deeper and more hideous. They never got a chance to heal, go away. I burdened her with them, piled them on her. She bore them, like a cross, and when she died in 2009, she forgave me again, I know. She loved me. That is what hurts the most. I made her suffer at all for something she could not help. I was like that scar on her belly, hideous and I would not go away.

She kept telling me she loved me. I remember being older and thinking how I hated her to say that all the time and kissing me. She smoked and her kisses were those of a smoker, but she was always clean, and they were always soft. And meaningful. There was more unsaid in one of her kisses than I could relate in many books, and yet I was not always grateful. I did love my mother. I just did not always know that I did. Sometimes I still don’t. But what would you want to hear about my mother? The water at the beach was cold. The sky was blue. Surfers used that beach in Cocoa, right on the A1A. We lived across the street. Although I had many memories from before that, I could not remember them. I look in pictures and it seems like another child, another world, with the same people, but I was not in the pictures. This other little girl was. How would I describe her? I always heard that your mother was not quite right in the head. She was crazy. That is what my father told my mother. He was so put upon to take care of this woman, who did not support him in his life as a very important executive. She did not go to parties, she made excuses. Later, she was sad and depressed, she did not care about his work. He had to go home sometimes, when you called and said, “Mother is at it again, you must come home.” He went right home, you picked him up from the airport. You had a relationship with him, I did not. He was your father and this world was a private place I was given so few ideas of I savored every one. A sister. A half sister, but a sister. A big sister.

I did not really care about your mother. Every child hopes that his or her parents, in this situation, will get together, and be a happy family. You must have wanted that too. And do not try to tell me that it was, because I know, with that father, it was not. He was a very selfish man, the only kind I have ever known. The god of one of them if there are gods of men. But, as a very little girl, I doubt I realized he was missing. My grandfather spoke about it. There were discussions and whispers, mostly where my grandfather and his brother, his wife Lois, were talking about it, about me, about my mother. I do not know what colored my opinion of my mother, of myself, but that did. Whatever was said, whatever was done was permanent. Harm. I was cautioned, I know, not to say anything about my father or my mother. My grandfather even believed, for a time, that I was his own child, not hers, not theirs. He used to take me places with him, everywhere he went, and treated me like their child, he and his wife’s.



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