Summer 2012 : Fight
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Summer 2012 : Fight
Oregon Humanities: Summer 2012
Lola was a toddler and I a few years older when it dawned on me that there was such a thing as a favorite child, and I, clearly, was not it. “What makes you think you’re not special?” my mother asked as she and I harvested peas and my sister played on the porch. “Well, where’s my nickname?” I said. By then, Lola had several: Lolly, Lollypop, Popsie. “All right, think of a name and we’ll call you that,” said Mom. But even then I sensed that the glory of a nickname was the spontaneity of other people recognizing and calling you by it. I took slight comfort in Marie-che, my Hungarian grandmother’s endearment; nobody else used it.
Though we rarely fought openly, the older we got, the more Lola and I became rivals. She usually ended up the winner. When I began to write, she got an essay published in a coastal newspaper. I joined the choir and she sang solos. I was in community theatre when she became an extra on Knots Landing. In high school, I was art editor of the yearbook, and the next year she was chief editor; I was a prom princess, then she was queen. The unkindest cut: I began to gain weight and was astounded that she sometimes ate a whole chocolate cake in one day, yet never showed a pound.
By the time Lola was deep into alternative medicine, insisting frequently that I drop my doctors, we were into a cold war that lasted for years. It disturbed me that, though we were each rich in things to share, we were wasting opportunities to grow, to know and love each other. As intelligent and creative adults, why couldn’t we invent some mutually acceptable way to overcome the differences that threatened to destroy us?
One day I phoned her and suggested we work on a solution. It turned out she wanted the same thing. We began with five-minute phone calls, agreeing to completely drop the past and begin again, neither of us preaching, both focusing on positives, each able to end the call if she became uncomfortable. It was difficult at first, but we stuck to our guidelines and soon were both relaxed, enjoying each other’s company.
During her last cancer, our sharings were particularly poignant and irreplaceable, our best prize for having given up the fight.
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Oregon Humanities magazine examines topics of broad public interest from a variety of perspectives and approaches. Recent issues of this publication have focused on stuff, nostalgia, and civility. Through good and thoughtful writing, Oregon Humanities magazine enriches our understanding of important subjects and stimulates conversation and reflection among readers, their friends, families, colleagues, and neighbors.
For more than a decade Camas Davis has been a magazine editor and writer for national magazines such as National Geographic Adventure and Saveur, and local publications such as Portland Monthly, Edible Portland, and Mix. In 2009, she traveled to France to study butchery. Upon her return, she founded the Portland Meat Collective, a traveling butchery school.
Eric Gold is a freelance writer in Portland.
J. David Santen Jr. has written about books, business, the environment, and communities for the Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, and other publications. He lives in Portland.
Jill Owens works in marketing for Powell’s Books, where interviewing authors is the most interesting part of her job. She’s originally from the South but has lived in Oregon for eleven years and is here to stay.
Photographer Jim Lommasson received the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor prize from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University for Shadow Boxers: Sweat, Sacrifice & the Will to Survive in American Boxing Gyms. Previous publications include Oaks Park Pentimento. His photographs have been widely exhibited in museums and galleries.
John Frohnmayer is chair of the Oregon Humanities board of directors.
Margot Minardi is an assistant professor of history and humanities at Reed College, and the author of Making Slavery History: Abolitionism and the Politics of Memory in Massachusetts (2010). She is currently working on a history of the nineteenth-century American peace movement.