Looks like this entry will be all over the map, much like I’ve been the last 50 hours or so. Beav and left for the airport at the lazy hour of 0530 to meet a bus to catch a plane to jet off to see my dad and meet our new family in San Antonio. I call them “my” new family now but 50 hours ago, they were just his new family and I was a part of his other family. (sheesh, I sound like a ten year old going to meet Daddy‘s new wife and their new baby, don’t I?) Anyhow, we left one cold and foggy place for another cold and foggy place (I know, I know WTF is up with this, twenty degrees in San Antonio, Hell-O Al Gore?. . .) I was pretty nervous about meeting my father’s special someone and her family. I wanted her to like me; and maybe love me someday. I’ve met her before when I was much younger and remembered her as a beautiful and sweet friend of my mother‘s. I knew who was who in her family and the victories and their losses over the years. My dad’s beloved was my mother’s Maid of Honor 58 years ago and my mother in turn witnessed her simple ceremony that same week when she married my dad‘s Air Force battle buddy. My mom and M were confidantes over the years and shared a special bond only women who have weathered the same things at the same time forge. I remember my mother calling me when M’s oldest daughter died after a brief but valiant fight with breast cancer. Mom could barely speak for her own anguish. Mom treasured the jewelry Daughter had made and spoke with pride (as if she were her own child) when M and Daughter went to France to sell her pieces. It wasn’t any surprise that M opened her heart to Dad immediately after Mom died and helped through those first difficult months from her own experience of grief and loss. M’s daughter (just about my sister’s age) died a few years ago and M lost her husband about ten years ago. So much grief to weather in one life but M loved my mother very much and helping Dad probably helped her, too. As the year has passed, their friendship has turned to love. I am terribly sentimental and this turn of events and their shared history makes me sigh, smile and believe this Universe is benevolent. The two of them are building a life together and my father “impetuously” moved to San Antonio. I say “impetuously” because my dad isn’t one of these people who would rush home from work on Friday and announce: “Honey! Load up the kids! We’re taking a trip!!” No, my dad is very methodical and a planner. So when he asked me (why he asked, I’ll never fully understand!) if I would mind if he moved to San Antonio to be closer to her I knew this wasn’t some half-assed idea like I would have (and have had. Lubbock, I’m looking at you). So he did it and he bought a
Anne Lamott says that grief is like a lazy susan, some days it turns and you get rage, other days you turn it and it’s just a fact of life, this loss. I had discounted that summation as not applying to me, I felt like I had reached a point in my own grief for the loss of my mother where it lived deep inside and it was just something that happened to me. Mother died. Of course she did, she was old and she was unwell. She was also miserable with pain and depressed because of her failing mental status. Her death was a blessing for her in many ways and much harder on the rest of us. A couple of weeks before Christmas, I noticed I was feeling a free floating sadness and it took a day or two to figure out what was wrong. It was grief. Christmas was important to my mother and I think I was still in a state of shock last Christmas so I felt her absence keenly this year. So I was already had the seed of revisiting grief and loss in my mind. I was prepared to love these people based only on the evidence of the way they had swept my father into their circle and helped him through his own tremendous loss in ways I couldn't because this is my first time with grief so close to my heart. On Wednesday, I didn’t have a lot of time to think about my own experience of grief as I was reintroduced to M and her delightful family who all welcomed Beav and me like we had just come home from a long trip and my own raw insecurity makes such warmth from strangers a little overwhelming. Which is probably why I cried for about two hours yesterday as I drove through the unspeakably beautiful western edge of Hill Country? My tears came from relief because I experienced the same people my father did and I understood his affection and love for them. I was so afraid my father’s new life would exclude his daughters. This morning I thought back to a dream I had last week. It was one of those lucid dreams which I believe is a visitation from those we love. Dad, me and Mom were standing in the kitchen of our old house and she was packing things in paper and putting them in a box. She was talking to me and unfortunately I don’t remember what she was saying which had troubled me last week. But this morning when I flashed on the dream, I remembered she was happy and animated: excited to be packing the kitchen. And again, I cried. I cried tears of joy and relief for my father. Tears of joy for me. I can’t wait to get to know my new family in South Texas. Dad showed me a letter M’s son wrote and it was so tender and sweet as he described the “light returning to his mother’s eye” and how he had been afraid she would spend the rest of her life alone. I knew that fear, I didn’t want Dad to be alone, either. I had also seen the light C described his mother having. It lives in my Dad’s eyes.
So now I have a new home and a new family special gifts for the new year. L, who is near my age with a son almost exactly Beav's age, is a funny, intelligent and a strong woman, M’s sister C is just as smart and capable with a deliciously wicked sense of fun, and M's grand daughter--Violet Bella--who’s photography I’ve gushed over at etsy (lovely serendipity) after following links of newly listed items is someone I'm hoping to meet in person this spring whom I getting to know through her own art and words. M herself who is tranquil and thoughtful in ways I only hope to be.
No accident I met them on The Twelfth Day of Christmas because that’s just how grace works.