My parents were married four years before I was born, the first of two girls. We lived in Michigan near my father’s parents until I was four years old and then we moved to Florida to be close to my mother’s parents. A few short years later, my mother’s younger sister, her only sibling, was killed bya drunk driver on her 25th birthday. Less than a year later, my Memaw passed away. The doctors said it was heart failure. My mother knew that her mother’s heart did not fail her but was broken violently by one of life’s cruel tragedies.
My mother was so sad and I believed it was hard for her to go on without her mother, so I chose to take care of her. Barely seven years old, I grew up in a matter of days. I felt responsible, by my own conscience, to lessen my mother’s burdens; I cooked, I cleaned, I ran her bath for her every night. When my parents divorced, I felt even more obligated to be strong for her. At first it was cute and sweet, thoughtful and helpful. But then one day my mother called me “Grandmother” and then started to cry as she realized her child, her little girl, had grown into an old soul.
We continued on this way well into my teenage years. I graduated from high school with honors and then moved across the country to Oregon. I got married, had my first child, and endured awful and ugly abuse to my body, my mind, and my soul for years before having my second child. I felt old, tired, and used up by the time I was in my early twenties. My life was hard and falling apart, and when the danger extended to my children, I finally found just enough strength to get away, but not much more.
And then I met a woman. She changed everything. She talked to me; she listened to me; she heard me and respected me. She doted over me and took care of me and my children without being asked. She was careful of my fragility while slowly building strength within me. She was genuine and sincere and so very patient. She praised my over-comings and my accomplishments, helped me up when I fell, and encouraged and supported me back to success. Her touch was tender and gentle and melted me like wax brushed by a flame. I felt safe and secure, loved and wanted, and as contentment enveloped me, my soul was unlocked, my spirit freed, and the ultimate result was that the beautiful child I was meant to be was brought back to life and is joyfully bursting out of me. And now I say to myself, to God, and to the world…
I have arrived!