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Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category


It’s Thanksgiving and we’re visiting my father-in-law and the rest of the clan on his side of the family.  The yearly tradition brings between 16 – 20 of us together to catch up on the year’s events and see how old the kids are getting – now that many of them are starting to have children of their own.

My father-in-law spends the day beaming as he visits each of us.  He loves watching his brood grow and he takes his place at the head of the assorted tables cobbled together to make one long dining space that stretches from dining room to living room.

For him it’s bittersweet.  It’s the one time of year we all come to visit and feast together.  And in years past he would catch the eye of his wife seated at the far end of the table and blow her a kiss.  This is the second year that chair will be empty.

Dean was married to Susie for 63 years before she died, leaving him alone and unprepared to continue life without her.  For some reason he was blindsided by her passing, even though his kids had been expecting it for years.  He assumed she’d  come home from the most recent hospitalization just like every other time.  This time, though, she didn’t.

He’s been grieving for more than two years now, still heartbroken over losing his one great love. He tells us he talks to her every night to tell her of the day’s events.  He says he apologizes to her for not doing enough for her all those years they were together.

Myrtle Beach, SC Spring Break 2007

Image via Wikipedia

That confession astounds me.  I can’t imagine him doing anything more for that incredibly fortunate woman.  He created and maintained a beautiful garden in their backyard so she could see it through her kitchen window.  Bought a condo in Myrtle Beach to winter there because she loved being near the ocean.  Bought the house she loved in Pennsylvania because she loved it.  To me, their marriage was what fairy tales are made of, built on love and mutual respect.  And now – he bemoans what he thinks he didn’t do.

What he didn’t do is say goodbye to his wife of 63 years.  For him, she suddenly died.  While she was living he never said…

Thank you for a wonderful life together.  Thank you for our four wonderful, productive, achieved kids.  Thank you for working and supporting our household while I was earning a Ph.D in metallurgy.  Thank you for moving where my jobs took me.  And thank you for your never-ending support, friendship and love over the years.

Had he realized she was on a dying path for the last three years of her life, perhaps he might have taken the time to say to her then what he says to her every night now.

The lesson my father-in-law is teaching?  Don’t ever wait to say thanks to the people you love.  And tell them that you love them.  Today, tomorrow and future tomorrows.

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My neighbor was walking the neighborhood this morning with her grown daughter, deep in conversation as they passed by Pogo and me.  We share the daily ritual most days – usually my neighbor is with her husband and dog.  On weekends her daughter joins her.  It seems they use the time to catch up on intimacies from the past week as they lead their independent lives.

“A mother’s treasure is her daughter. “~ Catherine Pulsifer

Watching that close repartee sparked a yearning for the same.  I miss that kind of friendship between mother and daughter, a relationship I never actually experienced.  I’m not sure how you can miss what you never really had, but somehow I do.

“The mother-daughter relationship is the most complex.”  ~Wynonna Judd

My mother was my biggest supporter as a child; she schlepped me to one audition after another as I chased my dream of being on stage.  And after each rejection she comforted my heartbreak by telling me that someday she just knew my time would come.  Just persevere.

And when my heart was breaking from a boy I loved who wouldn’t be mine, it was my mother who helped me recognize that life wasn’t over.  And it was also she who comforted the boys that loved me but weren’t able to win my heart.  She counseled them on the phone and encouraged them to move on.

It was also my mother, and only my mother, who came to my piano recitals, choir performances, plays (as a chorus member), and later – talent shows and performances at college.  She rooted for me in everything I did and felt that I could hang the moon if I wanted to.

“1 mother + 1 daughter = 2 best friends”  author unknown

But she was never my friend.  As I grew older we continued to talk, but we grew farther apart never really learning much about what makes the other tick.  She was consumed with her frustrations and I with a need to offer her ways out of them, though she never heeded any of my suggestions.  She was not a mother who pulled her children close to her, in fact, she looked forward to the days when we’d be out on our own and she could fly solo again.

I have a few women friends who adore their mothers, respect and admire them and spend as much time with them as possible.  I’ve always envied them; I wish I’d known that closeness.

What’s your relationship like with your mother?  And how has it changed over the years?

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