I’m about to embark on something impossibly personal and I don’t know how to do it without feeling like I’m tromping on countless toes belonging to so many bodies. It isn’t my story and maybe that’s what makes it hard. It isn’t even a story it’s a life, a portion of a life still being lived and maybe that’s what I’m struggling with. Every life is completely unique and somehow, exactly like every other. Life is complicated, full of tragedy and joy and pain and pleasure, ups and downs, trials, victories and losses, and best of all, twists and turns. The story of someone born into tragedy does not have to end in sorrow just like someone born into lucky beginnings isn’t guaranteed a happy ending. I think Helen Keller and Shakespeare -via King Lear- long ago proved those points well enough, eh? All this to say, in order to get where I’m going, I need to talk about the sadder parts of an otherwise happy-sad-painful-joyful life, the life of my best friend and all around favorite person. But this is not a sob story, so don’t get it twisted.
My husband has no memory of his mother. She passed away when he was just a young boy, a baby, before the beginning of his recollection. He can’t bring to mind any scene from his childhood that includes the woman who brought him into the world. In truth, he’s never even seen a photo with them together, and because she was ill, one may not even exist. And that leaves a giant pit full of questions and what-ifs and sorrow somewhere in the back of his mind, or the edge of his heart. He doesn’t spend all his time wallowing in that pit, but it is there and it isn’t entirely unvisited. He wonders about his mother. And who wouldn’t? He wonders what she was like, how life would have been different if she had lived. What parts of his body, his personality came right from her? He wonders about her side of the family, the family he grew up without, but may have otherwise have come to know during holidays and family get-togethers, the friendships that may have existed in his boyhood if a different reality occurred for him.
In the life that actually was, Randy was raised by an amazingly generous and loving woman, a woman for whom I have untold amounts of respect. He has an awesome baby sister, someone I have admired and looked up to for a long, long time. He shares a bond with his older brother that is very strong, because each is the only other who shares the exact same blood. His Grand’Mere is an almost magical person, with an infectious chuckle and stories that are cherished. Because of the life that actually was, he became the man that I fell in love with and will grow old with. It led him where he needed to be and provided for him all along the way.
Oh, but at such a price.
As an adult, Randy has come to know some of his cousins from his mom’s side. The death of his maternal grandmother, in 2005, brought them together for the first time. Speaking for myself, I imagine that knowing them now, probably makes not knowing them before even harder, because they are great people with good hearts and adorable families.
As we scramble to connect with family and friends, on this our homeless tour 2013, we planned to meet up with some of those cousins. We were planning on some lunch and some laughs. We wanted to tell them to come visit our hypothetical, but totally potential farm sometime in the future, when it in fact exists. But what we got, what he got was so much more.
His cousin brought out a bag. She brought from that bag a hat and explained that it had been worn by his mother at her mother’s wedding.
She then proceeded to pull out picture upon picture of his mother in various stages of her life. It was overwhelming and unexpected. And, I’m not going to lie; I immediately turned into a giant pile of cry-baby. I could not hold in the emotions I knew Randy was also feeling. What a gift, a blessing. We all noticed that his mother obviously shared his and his brother’s passions for cars as she was photographed on or near one in the majority of the pictures.
It’s funny how one little detail can make you greedy for so much more. But what we got was more than enough, and will be treasured and remembered and valued.
I want to thank them; I don’t know if they know the enormity of what they gave, but I hope they do. I hope that we stay connected and don’t lose touch so that maybe some of the bonds that might have been can still be. No matter what the future brings we are happy to have had the time we have had with them and look forward to what is to come.