A Moment in Time

This past weekend we said goodbye to my former mother-in-law of 15 years.  She was a good woman; kind, generous and a little quirky.  Her independence however, tipped the richter scale.  This woman single handedly raised her son alone.  She worked as a nurse and made her way through life on her own terms.

She was a people person to the 10th degree.  She never sat alone for breakfast.  She would make her way to the local diner and created her very own version of the breakfast club.  After some time, their group became quite large and breakfast was spread out for a few extra hours.

She worked very hard and at times she took on two jobs.  She had her regular shift of nursing and on the side she worked for a nursing agency, travelling to people’s homes who were unable to get to the doctor , doing blood draws and collections.  She did what she had to do and then some.  She saved her money and planned trips around the world.

Working until retirement wasn’t enough for her.  She liked getting out there with other people so she took a job at a local Walmart.  She loved that job and she loved those people she worked with.

As I stated before, she was my former mother-in-law.  But, she was more than that.  She was the grandmother of my children.  The woman who always made special traditions for my kids.  She impacted their lives until , well, she still does, even after she passed away.

We gathered for her funeral on Saturday.  My children are grown and came together along with their children and I was included ,along with her son.  We celebrated her life as we came together for 3 glorious days of fun, nature, laughter and tears.  And, while her son and I are no longer married , for three days we were a family again.  The perfect send off for a woman that lived and breathed “family”.  She was right there with us as we enjoyed each other in her kitchen, gathered together around the center island eating massive amounts of food which could only make her proud.  We went for long walks in the woods as a family.  We laughed and enjoyed each other.

A moment in time that we may never see again.  And, for that moment, we were one unit.  The joy in my heart of being together with my children and grandchildren is a gift brought to me, courtesy of my former mother-in-law.  In the end, it doesn’t matter that she was my former anything, or that my former husband was involved with us this weekend.  In the end, we were a cohesive family enjoying our differences and celebrating a life well lived.


Color Me Red

I saw a picture of a girl sitting on a couch laughing. She had red hair and wore a white dress. She was bobbing her head around and frolicking hysterically as she chuckled such a happy giggle. Who is that girl I wondered.

I’m looking at a little girl with a sad expression on her face. She cries very often and doesn’t talk too much. Even when she does talk it’s a quiet whisper. Her tears come more often than her sweet grin. I asked her what her name was and she shyly whispered “Mona”. I sat with her for a while and tried to strike up a conversation but her apprehension was so great that she just put her head down and searched for something to look at other than me. Mona, I asked, why are you so sad? “I don’t know” she replied. It was difficult to pry any information out of her. “Well Mona, I’ve been told that you cry very easily and I’m sure there must be a reason. Can you tell me what upsets you so?” Mona sat quietly in the room with me. There were toys for her to play with but she had no interest in any of them. She was very fidgety because she didn’t want to engage in this conversation. Mona looked at me out of the corner of her eye and said “my brother makes me cry”. “He’s mean to me”. I began to ask her questions about the things that her brother did that were mean. “He points at me and tells me scary stories and he laughs at me”, said Mona. “Well Mona I knew there had to be a reason that you were sad. I would be sad too if someone laughed at me and made fun of me. What kind of stories does he tell you that are so scary?” Mona sat up and looked at me very intently now and said “he said that I used to have a sister named Mona and she cried all the time and they drowned her in peanut butter and they buried her under the apple tree in our backyard.” I looked at poor Mona and realized that her brother was tormenting her but he did it in a way that nobody else could see. He would place his elbows in a certain way at the dinner table so that they were pointing in her direction and he would whisper “Mona, I’m pointing at you.” This was a terrible torment especially because it was secret and everybody in the family couldn’t understand why Mona was such a cry baby. At such a young age she felt like a victim that no one else could understand and they couldn’t because they didn’t see clearly what her brother was doing. Her family chalked it up to the fact that Mona was just a very sensitive child. But nobody liked a cry baby.

I see a young woman who is married and has a small child. She works full time so her son has to go to daycare. Her husband works full time too but he is very withdrawn all the time. He works more than the average 40 hours a week. For some reason he’s working 50 or 60 hours a week. Even when her husband is home he is never present. He sleeps a lot and is cranky most of the time. He doesn’t like to smile ever. This woman is very lonely in her marriage and so she shares all her time with her little boy and he becomes a companion of sorts. She takes him to the orchards and to the park. They go to the movies together and Mother and Son are very happy. But the loneliness just fills her inside. She can’t share her feelings or emotions with her husband because he won’t tolerate it so she just let’s it build up inside without a whisper to anyone, another lonely hearted soul. Eventually she and her husband have a second son and shortly thereafter they face divorce. A woman can only stand being alone for so long. The sadness and fear and anger keep building like lava heating up up underneath the mountain. Soon the volcano will burst and what will be left in the ashes no one can know.

Independence is a funny thing. We are not always born with it or maybe we are but we learn very early on to contain it. We must always contain any thoughts or emotions because nobody likes a cry baby. There are times when independence is forced upon us because we cannot count on anyone else. We have to figure things out for ourselves because there isn’t any rescue waiting for us. We are lonely beings just waiting for someone or something to come along and pick up our broken pieces and put us back together. A person can get pushed into it if they want any chance at survival. Self reliance can pop up in our path because we have no other choice.

A woman in her mid thirties walks by me. She’s a little heavy set with brown hair and stands about 5 feet 2 inches. She’s got her little girl with her and they are getting ready to enter the dance studio. The woman seems pretty happy with a smile on her face as she greets the dance teacher. Her daughter is a very confident, talkative little girl. Everyone at the studio knows her. She is quite the social butterfly. The mother sits in the waiting area with the other mothers while their children have their dance lesson and they chat about Mom stuff. I noticed that she comes by here every week with her daughter and now she is able to drop her off and pick her up after her lesson. I’ve never seen her Father come by. A few years later I saw the same woman with her daughter who was of course starting to grow up. They were at the ice cream stand in our town with the daughter’s softball team. Everyone was all smiles and the parents were friends. The kids hung out with the kids and the parents hung out with the parents. I guess when your kids are in activities that becomes your social life. I didn’t notice her Father there either.

I just met this woman at my weight management group. She’s really nice and so caring. She makes me feel comfortable sharing my weight loss journey. It’s very difficult to speak about what caused a person to become heavy. It’s like a therapy session and people share their souls with the group. I like this woman. Her confidence and humor make our meetings so much fun.

As time has gone by I too have changed. I’ve grown older, wiser, more confident and willing to socialize with everyone. My life is good and I’m finally happy. As the years have moved forward I’ve been able to grow my spiritual foundation and at the same time not take life too seriously. I know how to have fun now. I can laugh and dance and sing and find humor in most things now. It’s funny how life can change. As you grow older you get new friends, keep some old ones and socialize with different groups of people. I’m looking in the mirror now and wondering if this dress flatters my thinning figure. I’ve dyed my hair red because I love switching things up now and again. I have to laugh at how men respond to red heads. It’s astonishing how boyish they become with their flirting even as an older adult.