Almost seven years after The Wedding…
My dad met my stepmom (Gayle) not long after my parents divorced. I think for them it was love at first sight, or something close to that. It wasn’t long before they were living together. Over an hour away.
New life. New friends. New family.
I dreaded going for visits. I felt out of place. Unwanted. Pushed to the side.
But there was one highlight to every visit. I got to spend time with Gayle’s mother, Maude. I loved her, and she loved me. I would find refuge at her house. She always had a generous hug, a hearty laugh, and a “how’s your momma?”
She was the only person that acknowledged this other side of my life. Because she got it. She understood that ripped in half feeling, and with love, she tried to tape those sides back up together so that I could be whole again.
She passed away in January of 1997. It had been years since I had seen or talked to my dad, but I knew I had to go to the funeral. I had to say good-bye to this woman that meant more to me than she ever knew. The woman that, I’m sure, set the example that would forge the extended family I have today.
I drove my brother over so that they would not have to take the time to pick him up, and also because I needed the support. I attended the service at the church and the graveyard. Afterward, I went to a get together of people at my Dad’s house. I felt just as out of place as I had all of those years ago, but this time I didn’t have the person that made it all right.
I was sitting at the table in the kitchen when someone sat down with me to talk.
“How did you know Maude?”
“I’m Jamie’s daughter.”
“Oh… really? I didn’t realize he had a daughter.”
Now, years later, I can see my part in this, but at the time all I felt was a sharp knife of betrayal. I got up from the table and left. I’m not even sure I took my brother back home. I just knew I couldn’t stay there any longer.
That stabbing pain of betrayal would work on me over the next 10 months until I made a decision that changed everything.
Next is The Reconciliation…
Note: It is very, very important to note right now that I love my stepmom and every single member of her family. It may have taken me longer to realize it than it should have, but they ARE my family. I don’t know what I would do without them. I know this story is hard to read, it is hard to write, but this is what has molded me into the person I am today. And I would not be who I am if I did not have the love that followed all that came before.
Between the wedding and the funeral there was one other major thing that happened (because I’m only writing the big things, there were lots of smaller… less painful… things). It was painful, but my story is so intertwined with the other people involved that I am unable to separate my feelings from what my memory perceives theirs to be. Therefore I’m skipping that part.
This a series I’m writing about my relationship with my Dad. This is the story of my pain based on my perceptions of events. Some of it will not be pretty, but it is time for me to set these memories free. Mistakes were made by everyone, including me, so please read with a soft heart and forgiveness so that I may forgive myself. Also, please keep in mind there are always at least two sides to every story.
Some people will probably think that I should not write this, but I offer up two quotes from Anne Lamott for the reason why I should.
If people wanted you to write warmly about them they should have behaved better.
Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.
I will be linking these posts up with Heather of the Extraordinary Ordinary for Just Write because that is the only way I will be able to get them out… to just write.