Sunday, February 26, 2012

Orphaned at 32, Adopted at 37

There are parts of my life that seem like fiction.  Let's face it, for those of us who believe in God, why would God let any single, decent human being suffer the magnitude of loss I had by the time I was 34?  I still wonder that on my really bad days and it has nothing to do with being ungrateful for the very good things in my life now.

My parents were divorced.  I never lived with my father in my memory.  My sister and I saw him often until I was about 11.  Now, we didn't have the kind of arrangement that is common today.  We never went to his house to visit over a weekend or even a night.  He came to us on Saturdays.  His visits diminished rapidly, then stopped.  I don't remember what brought about the knowledge that he was sick.  We found out he had ALS, Lou Gherig's disease.  I think I was sheltered from it.  My older sister was in nursing school, so I believe she knew more.  It seems to me that the whole process went so very quickly.  We were able to visit him a few times and then he died.  It was awful.  I feel like I barely knew him.  I had just turned 13 and was never going to know him.

My mom was a pistol!  She was the epitome of the independent, single mother.  She did it when it wasn't the norm.  She was on her own in the mid-70s.  She carpooled an hour to  and from work, then came home and helped on the tobacco farm where we lived.  She had grown up as one of 10 children.  The majority of the brothers kept up the farm.  Their impact is a whole other blog.  She was a very involved member of her church and we were there every time the doors opened.

My mom smoked.  She worked for a major tobacco company for 31 years and smoked for double that.  Five months before she died, she was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It's an ugly thing to watch.  I highly recommend quitting smoking if it's something you do.

Two days after her 75th birthday, just after I turned 32, as my sister and I held her, our mother died.  That early morning, I became an adult orphan.

Fast forward to 2010.  Kelly and I met 23 years ago when his sister and I were friends in high school.  In 2010, we reconnected and the rest is history.  One of the best things about our relationship, for me, is feeling so loved and accepted by his family.  His parents and mother, particularly, treats me like her own.  Maybe I just feel more connected because that's what I know; having a mother.  It's as if the day I married him I was adopted and am no longer an orphan.  October 29, 2011 is very special to me for more than one reason.

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