Twinsie and I are planning our annual trek to see our dad and his bride, Hertha, 90 and 91 respectively. We all look forward to this annual visit with our dad. When his second wife passed away, we’d been fairly estranged from our father for over 20 years, so it was a renewal of friendship that we hadn’t planned on. There are good, solid reasons to choose a spouse over your children, but that doesn’t mean Regret doesn’t play with your head, the dangerous devil.
That first summer, we helped him pack his house and give to our step-monster’s, um, I mean, stepmother’s children what they had wanted, who were nothing but gracious to our dad. Dad’s wife had a hard time with his youngest girls, and no matter how hard we tried, and in the beginning we tried very hard, it was clear they had moved on and left us behind. Hard to swallow, but again, it was a great lesson in our lives, and it helped strengthen our moral and spiritual muscles. But, then she passed away, and suddenly we had an opportunity to be with our father again.
It was very weird for us. Twinsie is so much more open, hers is truly a heart of forgiveness, and I was much more reserved. The first day and night we were together, they both wept for what was lost, and he for his wife. I was dry-eyed, and focused on being a “Martha” while Beckie was “Mary”. I wished I could have summoned up her graciousness and sat at his feet, but I couldn’t.
Truly, I was not ready to jump into the deep end. I soon came around, but not without a very deep discussion with our dad late one night. I was cautious, but I also had questions, and I’m a thinker, not one to rush into anything without thinking about risk and reward. Both twinsie’s and my relationship with my dad is new, it’s not the old one anymore, and that is not a bad thing. But, still, I wish for the innocence sometimes, the bright-eyed, blind eyed innocence.
Reconciling lost years, lost opportunities for him to be with our children as they grew, that took time, but it was surprisingly one moment, where I feel the spirit of Dad’s wife helped me. I am a Martha, I am. Oh, I’m a Mary, too, but I need to be useful. I like to heal things. One thing that concerned Twinsie and me was that dad would get hungry. So, I began making food for us to eat, and to freeze for him to have later after we’d gone. Twinsie got busy in her Martha mode and helped dad organize his wife’s things to give to her children or donate.
One afternoon, they were off to donate things and I was making my spaghetti (it was no less than 100 degrees with 100 % humidity outside, not exactly spaghetti making weather, but it freezes well) and I was looking for a pasta pot. I began to really look at the organization of my stepmother’s kitchen. There was exactly what I needed, exactly where I’d expect to find it. There was order. This is something I believe saved my father. Order.
I spoke aloud in the silent room, I said to her in heaven, “I see you here, and I respect what you gave our dad. I cannot relive 20 years with you and him, but I can move forward from here, and I just wanted to say, thank you for taking care of him, and bringing order into his life.”
Such a sense of peace came over me. In my heart, I understood more about the changes that had taken place in our lives and why.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as they say, my hubby is so strong and such a rock for me. I’m emotional (so is he, a real softie) but he is so steady as I constantly try to work out my need to heal the world — he is my balance. I know my father has this in him, and my step-mother was his balance. I began to heal with opened eyes, and a receptive heart.
We can go back home, my friends, the people will have changed, the place might be overgrown, or different, but the heart can reconcile it all, if it’s open to it.
I’m sure there will be more blogs about our trip plans. Right now, I’m looking at a place to rent on the shore, so we can ride the Jersey waves every morning. Nothing like it for us Midwestern girls. But, the best is sitting with our dad and Hertha, even though now there is trouble lurking, dementia creeping into Hertha’s beautiful mind. There is much for the Marthas and Marys to do, and we don’t want to invite Regret to the table, in fact, only Faith and Love are welcomed there.