Coming out of the closet as a brat

For years I was in the closet; only my closest friends and family knew I was a brat.

In fact, this blog only came about because my inner brat decided to bust out a few weeks ago.

Bratty childhood

My kick-ass spirit wasn’t always hidden. When I was four, I scolded my beloved grandmother because she’d made my big sister cry. When I was 10, I wrote an indignant letter to the prime minister telling him to stop the seal hunt. 

Sometimes you have to stir it up, you have to pull the rug out from under things to make them right.

Adventures in bratty dating

The summer before university, I went out with my boyfriend at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, and returned home at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

My mom, bless her heart, was very upset and asked what the neighbours would think about me coming in at that time.

I said, “Well, if they’re peering out their windows in the middle of the night wondering where I am, I think they’re the ones with the problem, not me.”

As a parent I understand where my mom was coming from but being a brat means standing up for the truth, even if it goes against the status quo.

And the status quo is often covering up another truth.

Into the closet

I remember doing the dishes with my sister on a visit home from university and saying something typically bratty. She asked if I would say that to my boyfriend and I said, ‘Of course not! He couldn’t handle it.” 

It may have been during the dishwashing that my inner brat went into the closet. 

 Peeking out

This has been a year of change — being downsized, my only child moving away for school, becoming single again and more recently, the loss of my mom.

This post marks one year since that all began.

But it has also been a year of growth, creativity and new alliances.

Just over a year ago I was on my porch enjoying the summer night air and writing about how I wanted to do more public speaking, writing and videos. I wanted to inspire people to live more fulfilling lives by doing what they were meant to do.

I also wanted to move my own life in that direction. 

Busting out

For me that means being a brat — calling out hypocrisy, taking a strip off injustice and ripping the rug out from under my own thoughts or ideas when they get in the way of the life I want to live.

And of course, having a little fun.

When I launched this blog a few weeks ago I didn’t put my name on the posts, only my pseudonym, Bratty Kathy.

I told myself, “If you write about orgasms, you’ll never work in this town again!”

I got over it.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

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Send me a sign, Mom

Several years ago I decided to plant my first flower garden and my mom wanted to give me some gladiolus bulbs.  My late grandmother in her typically droll way said, “You’d better tell her which end is up.” My mom was stunned and said that of course, I would know that.

But my grandmother was right; I had no idea that I was supposed to plant them with the pointy end up. My gladiolus would have been blooming “all the way down to China”, or more accurately, into the Indian Ocean.

My mom passed away a couple of weeks ago so she and my grandmother are together again. I can imagine the conversation shortly after she arrived. “I want to send Kathy a sign that I’m OK,” she’d say to my grandmother.

Is it a fly?

A few days after my mom died I was sitting with my dad in his favourite coffee shop when a green (my mom’s favourite colour) fly appeared on my left hand. Its tiny torso shone like a water droplet on a green leaf. I noticed how beautiful it was but a moment later, I smucked it. Gone. Not a trace of fly to be seen. Then I thought, “Oh! Was that a sign?”

Up in heaven my grandmother was saying, “Don’t send Kathy another bug”.

Is it a bird?

My parents’ house is on the bank of a river. I stayed there with my dad for several days after my mom’s passing. One day my brother mentioned the Canada birds he’d heard. I had no idea which ones they were but once he pointed out the sound, I realized I’d been hearing them constantly, especially outside the bathroom window in the early morning. They were one of my mom’s favourite birds, but if they were a sign I almost missed them.

Green hangers 598 px W x 298 px H Greener

It’s a hanger!

On our first visit to the funeral home to make the arrangements, my dad and I took a look around. As we walked through the main entryway, I saw long closets on either side of us. Hanging from each one were rows and rows of big, green, plastic hangers. In most public places, especially a funeral home, you would expect to see stately wooden hangers or sleek, brushed steel, but here were all these green ones. “It’s a sign!” I said to my dad. “Mom would love these!”

It was a sign that this was the right place, that our plans to honour my mom here would work out just fine, with lots of love and lots of green.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel