Why Do I Weep Today?

Sandy Housley By Sandy Housley, 6th Apr 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Daily Life

Grief of loss is often a surprise. This story is about a step-mom and how her entering a ready-made family affected one of the children.

A New Family

Why Do I Weep Today?

When she walked through the front door with our Dad on a cool spring evening, Ginny was an unwelcomed stranger. I had only met her once, just weeks before. Timidly following behind was Leah, her 15 year old daughter, just one year older than I. Her plain features resembled her mother, who had privately said, “I do” to my Dad a few days earlier. Ginny had arrived to assume the role of mother to four step-children.

Six months earlier, our 37-year-old mother had died after a brain hemorrhage had left her in a semi-vegetative state. Our father had loved her deeply and was by her side every one of the 735 days she waned in the terminal wing of our local county hospital. My two brothers, sister and I were still grieving the loss of our sweet and beautiful mother, when suddenly we became a revamped family of five teenagers, ages 13 to 17.

The differences between our mother and Ginny were noticeable from the start. Mom loved children and wanted a house full of them, but had been unable to conceive after their youngest, Michael, was born. She had nurtured us, listened, hugged, encouraged, and lived by a profound faith. She cared deeply for her family and friends. Adding to that, she was also beautiful – thick dark brown wavy shoulder-length hair and soft green eyes. Ginny, on the other hand, chose to have only one child in her previous marriage, seemed uninterested in getting to know us on a deep level, lacked the affection we craved, and did not share our family’s faith at the time. What did my Dad see in her?

So, why do I weep today?

Our first Christmas as a blended family was bittersweet. We had all gathered around the brightly decorated tree to open gifts on Christmas Eve. Nostalgia filled the room with sweet reminiscing as we shared stories of past holidays. Someone spoke of how they missed Mom’s laugh. We wished out loud to hear her voice, her laughter just one more time.

At that, Dad suddenly rose and left the room. Our parents had made an amateur audio recording with some friends a couple of years earlier. Remembering that vinyl record, Dad went to retrieve it, returning with it in his hand; a grin on his handsome 38 year old face. As the LP spun on the old Motorola turntable, our precious mother’s voice and laugh rang sweetly through the house. Joy and sadness mingled as tears flowed freely from the Irish eyes of four teenagers.

Leah observed the scene with quiet respect and curiosity. Ginny, unable to endure the raw display of emotion and grief for the woman she sought to replace, raced from the room, climbing the dozen steps to their bedroom. Casting herself onto her bed, she wept, but not for us. She had unwittingly become an intruder in our grief, an outsider. I had no real sympathy for Ginny’s pain. Get over it. It’s not about you. You should have thought about us before pursuing our father in the midst of his heartache - and ours. She was nothing more to us than our father’s new wife, and would never replace our once vivacious, now dead Mama.

So, why do I weep today?

Two years after they married, Ginny asked our Dad if they could move out of the home we grew up in so she could have a place free from haunted memories of her husband’s late wife. Although I loved our neighborhood, I was surprised at how excited I was to move. It was an opportunity for a fresh start, to become someone new. Different. Better.

Mom’s death occurred just eleven days into my starting freshman year in a public high school. I carried my grief quietly that year. Kept to myself. It didn’t help that I was painfully shy around strangers. Some of the students assumed I was “stuck up.” They didn’t know, or didn’t understand that lamenting can cause the need to isolate and insulate oneself from others. Nor did they know how frightened I was of them.

It was a difficult adjustment going to a public high school. I had come from a safe and orderly parochial school the previous eight years. My high school was in a rough neighborhood where angry stares and colorful language were commonplace. The only safety I felt was when I was with my sister, Maureen, two years older than I. She would put a protective arm around me as we walked to and from school. On one difficult day, she stood between me and a rather large, odious girl who was ready to punch me after choir practice for watching her sing. My sweet sister had become my surrogate mom long before Ginny came along. Sadly, Maureen moved out of our home before I finished my Sophomore year. The following summer’s move to a new school would afford me a chance to redesign myself. Ginny, in her effort to walk away from the neighborhood and home where Mom was remembered, provided a blessing in disguise for me. My step-mom had unwittingly done me a favor.

So why do I weep today?

The move to a lovely home and to a high school where I could focus on my education and find new friends had blossomed hope in my broken heart. At the time of our move, my eldest brother, Larry, had been in the Air Force for a while, living in Texas. Maureen have moved out within a year of our Dad’s remarriage. Michael, Leah and I were the only kids who moved with our parents. It was truly a fresh start for all of us. I especially enjoyed having my own room for the first time, which brought the privacy and restful space that all teens long for.

Leah only lived with us in that new home for a year before she moved out with her boyfriend. The youngest, Michael, thrived in sports, while I blossomed with new friends. We were all adjusting well … and healing.

So,why do I weep today?

Ginny, realizing I had not learned to cook, offered to teach me one afternoon each week. She insisted that if I wanted to learn to be as good a cook as she , I had to come straight home after school. No dawdling at the mall, where most of my friends hung out. On the day of the 4th lesson, I had arrived home 10 minutes later than expected. She was a stickler for having dinner on the table when Dad got home from work at 5:30pm. On that day, my tardiness meant dinner would not be ready until 5:40pm. No more lessons for Sandy.

So why do I weep today?

Jump ahead two years. Following graduation I moved into an apartment with Maureen. I loved the independence. It was, however, short-lived. I married at age 20. Michael followed by getting married later that year at 19. Dad and Ginny were finally empty nesters and could focus fully on one another. Their marriage seemed to thrive. Grandchildren soon came along, but their idea of grand-parenting wasn’t what we had hoped it would be. Because Mom loved children, we bemoaned the loss of her as a grandmother for our kids. We were sad that, if she had been alive, our children would have enjoyed her love and care more than Ginny seemed to. There was never a time that any of our children spent the night at their grandparents’ home. At holiday gatherings they gave love and attention to their growing breed, but it didn’t feel like enough to us. Because each of us had in-laws who loved having the little ones around, we surmised that had to be enough. We learned to accept that our parents were not “kid-friendly.”

So why do I weep today?

Over the years, Dad and Ginny began to invest more of their hearts into the grand-children, making an effort to connect. However, Dad’s health prevented him from tossing a softball with the boys or reading to the girls one of the many stories he had written and published.

As Dad’s health began to deteriorate, I realized how blessed he was to have Ginny in his life. When he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she learned how to prepare foods that would help him. He depended on her, as he weakened, to do many of the things he couldn’t. She never complained, but seemed to enjoy making his life easier.

As the years passed, Ginny was no longer hurt or resentful when conversations turned to discussions of Mom, whose photograph always donned their fireplace mantle. Dad spoke openly of his love for our mother and how he missed her. He never hid the pain of losing her, nor did Ginny resent it any longer. She would sometimes even smile as Dad and I talked of when I was a girl, laughed at our childish antics, or when we teared-up talking about our many visits to her hospital bedside where she had lingered helplessly.

When my father passed, we all grieved for him. But there was a sense of release, I believe, for Ginny. Although she would often say how she missed her beloved husband, forty years of caregiving were over. Following his passing, she sold their home in California and moved to Nevada to live in an apartment near Leah. It was then, as we often talked on the phone, that something changed in my heart. Old resentments and misunderstandings disappeared, and were replaced by admiration and love for all she had done for Dad, and for us.

By age 88, her daughter, instead of offering to care for her mother, found a board and care home and moved Ginny into it. It grieved my brothers and me, who offered to take her in. But Ginny did not want to be away from Leah.

So, why do I weep today?

I weep because today she passed away, 3 days short of her 94th birthday.

I weep because in her final years she was alone and abandoned by her only child.

I weep also for joy that my second mother had a relationship with God and died peacefully.

And… I weep and smile at the thought that maybe, just maybe my father and mother together greeted her with open arms as she entered heaven. I wouldn’t be surprised, if Mom gave her a hug and thanked her for caring for her devoted husband and her four children whom she was unable to finish raising.

I weep today, but not for long. One day I will see them all again, and if there is weeping, it will be for the joy of being reunited with my Dad and two Moms once again.

Tags

Bereavement, Blended Family, Elderly, Elderly Relative, Loss Grief, Loss Of A Parent, Loss Of Parents

Meet the author

author avatar Sandy Housley
I love to write non-fiction inspiration, including short stories, devotionals and have a book in the works. I am also a copy-editor and owner of e-bookediting.com

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Comments

author avatar ritzwitz
7th Apr 2014 (#)

Your story reminds me these lines....'I believe in Angels something good in everything I see'...we all have grey shade in our character. Nobody is black or white....enjoyed reading it!

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author avatar Sandy Housley
7th Apr 2014 (#)

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I agree with you.

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