Heaven and Hell

April 15, 2006 at 9:16 AM (Uncategorized) (, )

Another sappy personal post.

First, before I get appreciatve, I need to clear up a misconception, should my maternal parent read this post.

She’s my mom. Nothing will ever change that. She fought for my safety, my potential, and my independence. I’ve written about her at this link. I am not trying to diminish her role or contribution in my life by appreciating someone else.

There. Now that that’s clear.

I’m up north in the middle of a lake. It’s high summer. I’m seventeen or so I believe. Myself and my much younger cousins are doing what the ancients call “horsing around” on a large raft, playing “King of the Mountain,” with a fall into the water being the outcome to avoid.

There’s someone else playing with us, with equal verve and enthusiasm. If she and I win, we are likely to end up paddling the raft fairly far into the deep, out in the true lake proper, and sing the old standard at the top of our lungs.

“Heaven

I’m in Heaven

And my heart beats so that I can hardly speak

and I seem to find the happiness I seek.

When we’re out together dancing cheek to cheek.”

My aunt, my mom’s sister.

She is a grownup who has *never* lost the ability or desire to be playful.

She’s a brilliant math educator, equally at home teaching those who love the interplay of numbers as much as she, or those who come into her classes assuming they will *never* get it.

She and her husband actually managed to raise their family to be smart, funny, well adjusted…No really. It’s amazing. No dark skeletons in anybody’s closet, except maybe the weird fact that my cousin the American Journalist/Actor Next Door somehow hates pizza.

Before she had her own children, she began to pick up parenting while hanging out with my mom and I.

She and her sister sound and look much alike, and while I was growing up, their long, involved chatty lunches together became legend. Once I was old enough, I was let in on the gabfests.

She’s one of those sunny people, who is naturally, most at home and comfortable in a situation where Things Are Going Well.

But…

For her parents, siblings children and her husband, and for myself….
She is one of the most fiercely loyal people I’ve ever known. She will also accept new family the moment it is clear they make one of us happy. When she first met my new boyfriend who became my husband she gave him a huge hug at the end of the evening. Since his family wasn’t as big on hugs, he was actually a bit uncomfortable and puzzled. As we were leaving and driving away he asked :

“Why’d she do that? I mean its okay, and I like her and everything, but why?”

Simple. It’s her seal of approval. When you become One of Her People, it’s a lifelong designation whithout a lot of conditions. And because of that, she learned early, very early, that I was a person first. My disabilities have never skewed her perceptions of myself as a niece or friend. I’m just a person for her, and for her family. Disability is mostly seamlessly integrated into our times together and then not given another thought.

She will have your back. In a big way.

Which means when things suddenly took a turn for the catastrophic in my life in the late eighties she was there. As her children have grown and faced some troubles of their own, she has done the same for them.

I’m somebody who wrestles with my difficulties by examining them out in the open. I have to talk them through to take command of them. But I needed/still need an ear. And, she was there. Period. No matter what had happened, no matter how intense or awful things became, she would listen. I could call her and she would incorporate an hour of talking to me into her time and life. She would visit as often as she could, especially in the early days of my Hodgkin’s disease when I couldn’t leave home. She stepped up, and loved my husband and myself when we were both difficult to be around.

And, if two of her people were disputing, she didn’t take sides. Ever. She tried to listen, understand and accept both points of view, and then work toward how a compromise might be reached.

Even if someone fell from grace by emotionally harming one of us and thus losing the actual stamp of approval, she still had geniune regret that those persons couldn’t have handled things better and stayed within her circle, so to speak. She was endlessly appreciative of what she liked about my father, and *still liked* while helping me wrestle though the effects of his alchoholism on her sister and myself.

She’s also the last one to give up on “true love.”

I’ve carried some torches in my time, and when I’ve long since understood that there’s very little hope for any of those past potential romances to ever bloom, she still will wish for them for me. I find it touching

She was matron of honor at my wedding, and her appearance in the royal blue of my attendants dresses provoked great appreciation from her husband. (Yep, they’re still cute together after many years of marriage.)

And this writing doesn’t begin to do justice to our bond. I’m going to give up attempting it’s description, and just say well, you have to be there to see it.

I find it tough to be far from her silliness, smarts and support, but we are kept in touch often by internet and cell.

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