In the Rockies

In the Rockies
Butler Gulch

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Inspirations - nature, spirit, & people: Musings

Inspirations - nature, spirit, & people: Musings: A quiet day in the midst of a busy season is both strange and pleasant.   I am writing on an I-pad as I may soon need to replace my laptop a...


A quiet day in the midst of a busy season is both strange and pleasant.   I am writing on an I-pad as I may soon need to replace my laptop and am told that these are the new best thing, perhaps with an attached keyboard which this does not have.

We have had a busy time--grandson Will's 21st birthday dinner, Ben's arrival from Florida for a few days, our Christmas Eve feast plus a visit to son Mike's longtime good friend's family gathering (Johnny did realize that introducing me as "Mother Means" was no longer appropriate!), and the big Means-Sanders family gathering on Christmas evening.  I am also visiting friends along the way; however it's that "family" gathering about which I'm musing.

The Means family gathering is actually my ex-husband Tom's family group.  Since I am most always visiting our son and family, I have, for more years than I can remember, been part of this gathering.  Our holiday plans are made around when the Sanders part of the group can be in town.  It is not always convenient, and there were years when I would have enjoyed skipping it.  However, son Mike made it clear years ago that he expected me to go.  In recent years I have looked forward to seeing everyone.

This year two things made the gathering memorable.  The exciting one--seeing the newest member of the clan, one-year-old Rowan--Tom's wife's first grandchild.  He really was adorable! The other part of this special get together was for Tom, whose cancer is proceeding without treatment since his body can take no more.  It was expected to be his last Christmas.  Tom met me with an "I have something for you" and toddled off to return with a gift bag.  In the bag were cookies which, Tom announced were hermits made by the recipe I used years ago.  He had found the recipe and oversaw the making.  I appreciated being part of Christmas memories, memories long not an acceptable part of the conversation.

I had become so accustomed to being this odd-person-out that I had repressed any feeling of loneliness that created.  It was only after the gift reminded me of our shared traditions that I realized what had been at the root of my feelings of not belonging--the erased years.

This doesn't happen at the wider Means family gatherings as I remain "Aunt Margaret" to all but the youngest of nieces and nephews and sister/friend to the Means siblings and spouses.  I realized that that is why I find those times--funerals these days--important.  I have no Cox-Wood family with whom to gather.  I keep holiday touch with three cousins, only one of whom I knew growing up, and we have few shared memories.

It is strange to have one's past erased.  It will be the same when Tom dies--no room for my grief.  In our healing prayer group's last meeting before I left for Nashville, the member who prayed for me said something like "give Maggie strength and comfort as she likely sees the man with whom she shared so much for the last time."  It was a wake-up call.  Being aware of my feelings even when they make others uncomfortable is difficult.  They aren't feelings to flaunt, just to acknowledge and be with privately.

Our children have held tightly to the dad of their adulthood and who he has become.  Perhaps that too is part of the erased-memory syndrome.

Christmas night dinner and gift giving was lovely.  It was made more fun by young Rowan--so cute as he helped Tom unwrap a package.  Our son said that Tom was having a good day.  He shared quips and laughter.  We were all where we needed to be sharing a mixed family Christmas dinner for what could be the last time.  Who knows if that group will come together without Tom.

I am reminded to be grateful for times with all family and friends as today, this time is all we can know.

(As this is not my device, I'll add photos later.)