And suddenly you just know…It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings. ~ Meister Eckhart.
Thank you to the mother-in-law I never met on the occasion of my husband’s 60th birthday.
My husband’s mom died suddenly when he was seventeen – just one month before we started dating. Over the years I heard countless stories and saw many pictures of this woman whose life was cut short at age 49.
One story I hear almost every year at this time is the story of Chuck’s family’s emigration from Italy to America in 1956. While emigration to the US could be many people’s story, his is unique in a couple of ways. First of all, his parents and four siblings were scheduled to travel at a later time, but plans changed, and they ended up coming to America on a ship that docked on May 12, 1956. The ship they were originally slated for was the SS Andrea Doria which collided with another ship off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts on July 25, 1956 and resulted in the death of 46 people who were on board.
An opportunity presented itself for the family to travel earlier, so they took the opportunity. No big deal right? Well it was a very big deal because Chuck’s mom was pregnant with Chuck (her fifth of six children) and was too far along to be travelling by ship to the US. The family did not want to separate or take the chance of missing the opportunity to come to America. So they told a little fib as to how far along his mom really was in her pregnancy. She wore a big coat to hide her size whenever she left her cabin.
Five days after arriving in their new homeland, Chuck’s mom gave birth to her fifth child, her fourth son. The joke for many years was since he was born in the US he could be president some day!
So today – 60 years and five days after that memorable arrival, I thank the mother-in-law I never had the chance to know for her bravery and determination, and for raising such a fine man. She was determined to keep her family together and make the sojourn to this new land as a complete unit. She was brave to make that trip being so far along in her pregnancy. I can’t imagine worrying everyday about the chance of going into labor and delivering a baby on board ship. Most importantly, she raised a son who knows (among countless other things) the value of hard work, that family comes first, and that love is eternal.
Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. ~ Betty Friedan
Last week I attended the wedding of the daughter of high school friends. It was so wonderful to share this happy day with them just the way they shared the wedding days of both my son and daughter almost four years ago. Time seems to move more quickly these days. Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were getting married, having babies, going to school shows and soccer games? But I digress.
As I was making my way around the reception space, I ran into a guy who went to the same elementary school as me. We graduated from the eighth grade together, and I hadn’t really seen him in at least 30 years. We engaged in small talk about our kids, our aging mothers, and I of course expounded on how wonderful it was to be a grandparent. We only spoke for about five minutes, but in that short time I was taken aback by something he said. “Don’t you feel like our expiration date is coming up?” Wow, I have never thought about my life in those terms.
No, absolutely not! I do not think about expiring any time soon. Don’t get me wrong. I know the decision is not mine, but I am certainly not dwelling on the end of my life. I am not even sixty for crying out loud! I am enjoying this phase of my life. My husband and I get to do whatever we want whenever we want without having to worry about kids, college tuition, or having dinner on the table every night – just to name a few things.
Oh sure, we worry about our kids and grandkids. Who doesn’t? But being freed of some of the responsibilities of raising a family gives us more time to pursue things that have been left on the back burner for too long (like this blog). No, we are not looking at our expiration dates or “best by” dates. Each day is a day to celebrate the good things life has brought us, to work through the challenges that may come our way, and to plan for future adventures together. The only “date” I am looking at is the one I have planned for this weekend with my husband.
You only fail if you stop writing. ~ Ray Bradbury
I sat at the computer but could not write.
The blank page was staring at me
I know there must be thoughts inside.
The words are there but they are
I am in a writing funk.
My mood is like the weather
I will not let this overtake me.
The sun will shine again