This was a post that was inspired by a post at www.Edgymama.com a couple of weeks ago. I am way past the deadline (and hardly articulate enough to compete) but I wanted to post it anyway. The contest was to write about someone you have chosen to be a part of your family....
She showed up at my door,zucchini bread in hand, shortly after we moved in. Several months later, she was back again to welcome our newest son home from the hospital. It wasn't long before I was at her door holding my offering of soup and condolences for the death of her husband - good southerners always bring food for the grieving.
Those were difficult days for me: new town, new baby, few friends, absent husband, and it was winter. Plus I had a two year old experiencing the same. I was grieving my old life. Multiply that by a thousand and that is what she must have been feeling.
She became a favorite of my 2 year-old. He loved going to visit her and I was so drawn to her, I encouraged frequent visits. I can't even imagine the unbearable pain she carried, her partner gone from this life, but she always welcomed us, no matter what she was doing or feeling. She literally was my sunshine during that first winter, as I was depressed. She offered to keep my son occasionally, but I usually declined as I didn't want to burden her, even though she was the one offering. I couldn't just take her offer at face value, a product of my relationship with my passive mother. My mom would make such gestures out of obligation or pity and then complain about them later. I have spent a lot of my life trying to read between the lines, enabling this behavior.
She later joked with me, that I was afraid to leave my son with her; she knows the truth now. The first time I left my boys with her I attended a mom's get together across town. When I returned, she informed me that she had fed my 7 month old peanut butter and honey, two no-no's before the first birthday. He was fine, but she was so embarrassed that she swore me to secrecy. However, it wasn't long before she was joking about the time she tried to kill my son. I trust her implicitly with my children, despite the murder attempt. She has rescued me, countless times, when I needed child care, not the least of which was a midnight call to watch one son while we took the other to the emergency room. She was at our house within 5 minutes.
Beyond loving and caring for my boys, she has become a dear friend, although I often feel it is one sided - she listening to my less than succinct monologues of religion and spirituality woes, child rearing issues, broken friendships, mother-in-law angst, dealing with death- the list goes on and on. She never fails to really listen, without judgment. She always has so much to offer, especially in acceptance and advice, but she never gives me the impression that she feels burdened to "solve" my problem. It is a gift she has and I have asked her to share it often.
Over the last six years we have enjoyed lots together, just as girlfriends should - pedicures, concerts, lunches, laughs, hikes, games night, etc. It didn't seem like a normal week if I didn't see her several times. We always felt at ease to drop in on one another, unannounced, although I was at her door more often. I would be treated to a beer or glass of wine, while my boys were treated to bubble gum. Sometimes I would bring her dinner, one my family refused to eat, and she would rave about how wonderful it was. I'm not convinced she was that enamored of my cooking skills; she knew how much I needed affirmation.
We moved across town 8 months ago, and we don't see each other as often. We both are busy with our "work". She spends countless hours doing community work but she just added something else to her plate: her first grandchild. Now she is traveling 500 miles one way, to share her love with the babe. Its beautiful to hear the joy in her voice, see the glow on her face, during this stage of her life.
I'm glad she has shared her life and love with us. We are better for it.