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Patricia Conroy's Autobiography (submitted 5/16/06)
For better or for worse, my life has been colored by death. My mother died when I was four, my father when I was sixteen. Even though she had five children of her own, my sister Mary ended up being my mother. Family joked that I was tied to her apron strings. After the birth of her sixth child and my first, she died at thirty-five. I spent most of my life mourning these people who could have provided much needed security.
My husband had his own reasons for needing security, and for the first part of our marriage, we staked our claims until we learned that we received only by giving. When we removed our armor and relaxed into a healthy relationship, we both became better people--close to each other, our children, our extended family and friends, and involved in our community.
Lacking female role models, the women's liberation movement of the early 70s provided me with strength and inspiration, which helped me personally, professionally, and spiritually. It allowed my eyes and my heart to open to the depth and support of women friends. Sometimes we can choose family. More importantly, my sister, my brothers and I learned to re-group forces to provide each other with all we had lost.
For about a year now I have been attending Quaker meetings, and for the first time in many years, my soul, too, is at peace.
This is my sixtieth year and, for the most part, I like where I am, who I have become, and the choices I have made. Life has been a long, slow, upward spiral.