Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When Two Women Shape Your World Part I


This is a letter from my Ma.
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When I was growing up in a nice subdivision kind of life, with a pool and a good school I had a lot of friends. My very, very best friend was a boy named Paul. He didn't live in our little enclave, but on a farm on the outskirts of it. He had 5 brothers and a sister. Growing up through elementary school and junior high school he had a Mom and Dad.
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By High School his Dad had ditched the family and left Ma to raise the youngest 4 boys. Paul was 3 rd in line. We were still best friends. And I adored his family, but especially his mother. My Ma.
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She was the hardest working woman I ever met. She was [at most] 4'11 and the most amazing person. She raised those boys on a salary as a clerk at 7-11. At one point the ex Dad refused to pay the taxes on the land they lived on and Mary lost the house, the boys' home and they had to move. Mary simply smiled and made the move.
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I am getting ahead of myself.
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The thing about Mary was she was [is] everyone's Mom. If you needed a sleepover - her home. A place to stay for a few months - her couch. You needed help getting back on your feet - go to Mary. I can't explain it. She didn't condone bad behavior or whatnot, she saw the good in her childrens' friends and welcomed them when their parents were abusive or hurtful or neglectful. She never stepped in when she wasn't needed. She could see right through you if you were lying because you wanted to just hang out - she would corral one of the boys and you had a quick ride home. But she knew if you needed to step out of what was going home when it wasn't right. She always made sure your parents knew where you were, so they wouldn't worry, but she had a knack for making sure that your parents didn't come get you. They let you stay with Mary, no questions.
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As I said her 3rd son, Paul, was my very best friend. He always was. Our typical Friday night was to watch Dallas with Mary and then go out to pizza and a movie. Our last "date" we went to see "White Nights" and I told Paul that I loved him. He asked me why I was always saying that to him and I replied that I was afraid that something would happen to me and if it did I didn't want to be gone and he didn't know that I did truly love him. It makes me smile to write that because next to Pooldad I don't think I have ever loved anyone like I loved Pauly. But, for reasons or details I won't go into now - he died six days later.
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He was my one, great true friend. As inconsolable as I was Mary stayed fast through her grief and held us all together. I have no idea how she did it. My parents refused me anytime to grieve Paul and I was to get back to GU and no matter what...graduate. I was so physically ill that I stopped eating. At 5'8 I went from 130 lbs to 95 lbs. I was a size 10 previously and when I started school that year all my clothes were a zero. My parents didn't care - I would eat eventually they said. The doctor told them I wouldn't. Arguments ensued. Mary stepped in, subtley...she assigned her eldest son, Andrew, to make sure I was okay - to follow me - to feed me. Andrew was just as tore up as the rest of us, but he agreed.
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I remember the first meal I ate in the 3 weeks since Paul's death. I will take no argument on whether I ate in 3 weeks. I didn't. Anyway, Andrew was going somewhere and I wanted to go. He swore he would not take me unless I ate 3 bites of a simple salad he had prepared. I can still picture that salad on my lap, on a little tray, with french dressing. I remember him counting. It was so hard. My body didn't want food anymore. I chewed that salad because I wanted to go with Andrew. So desperately. Andrew was my link to Paul. If my best friend wasn't going to be around then his brother was going to be the next best thing. In hindsight I was the closest link, next to the family, that Andrew had to Paul, so we suited eachothers' needs well.
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At the beginning of my junior year my parents decided I wasn't going to live on campus [read: They didn't want to pay for it] so I was to live with them. I refused. I got a job and moved in with Mary and the boys. I was all the way out in the suburbs, but I had Metro and I didn't care. I wasn't living with my parents. Mary agreed because she knew my parents and knew it was going to be unteneable for me if I stayed with them. Besides I was 20 years old and my parents weren't paying for my college education - just the room/board if they chose to, which they didn't.
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I was on my own. My best friend may be gone but I had [have] a family that loved and cared for me while I continued my education.
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Mary is now in her late 80's and I call her often, but especially every Mother's Day. She wasn't home this past Mother's Day and instead sent the note you see above.
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I haven't done justice to our story or to Mary herself, but this simple notecard is worth more than a winning lottery ticket. You will realize that if you read the bottom left hand corner:
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"I always thought how lucky I would be if you were my daughter"
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I know exactly how you feel Ma. I wish you would've been my Mom.
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Then again. I know you truly are.
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Next Part II

4 comments:

Gail said...

What a wonderful, yet sad, story. You have know two great loves, no three great loves in your life...if only every one could be that blessed.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Wow!

Rudee said...

You were blessed to have Mary in your life. You have some interesting tales to tell there, Skippy. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia said...

I love that story....I need to reread it and take it in more thoroughly...so interesting.