…and there she was

THURSDAY: She sat in the doctor’s office listening as he told her mother she had an abdominal cavity filled with malignant tumors and her “cancer count” was over 4000. Holy crap.

Her mother’s options for treatment were chemo in Longview/Dallas or MD Anderson in Houston. Since her younger sister lives just outside of Houston, and has a large comfortable home with plenty of room, her mother chose MD Anderson, where she could be cared for by her daughter during treatment. OK, then. Let’s do this.

SUNDAY: She drove to her son’s house early that morning. She left her car there, and together she and her son drove in his car because it is more comfortable, to pick up her mother and the three of them drove four more hours to Houston. They unloaded her belongings and left her there to begin this next, very scary chapter of her life.

MONDAY: She drove to the small, beautiful patch of land out in the country where her mother had lived with her husband for 39 years. Someone needed to check on her mother’s husband, but did it really need to be her…? Yes, it needed to be her.

Ever since she was a teenager, she had referred to her mother’s husband by his last name because calling him anything else felt too familiar, too casual, too friendly. She just couldn’t call him anything “fatherly” or even refer to him as her step-father. It had been her perception from the start that he didn’t care for her, and she felt unwanted at his house. She felt she was in the way and was often told not to “rock the boat,” which she took as meaning she was already an unwelcomed guest in the house, and anything she did to call attention to that was awkward, even harmful,  at best.

When she was sixteen, her mother handed her fifty dollars cash and said, “Take care of your sister. I’ll be back on Monday.” She asked, “Are you going to marry him?” Her mother looked at her with all of the strength she could muster, hoping she was doing the right thing for her girls and said, “Yes, I am.” It felt like a business decision really, and soon she would come to realize she had not been included in the deal. He had agreed to focus on the woman he loved and her youngest daughter, but the oldest one would graduate from high school and be gone soon, so he would just wait that out. Again, this was her perception and it was brutal. It was painful. It was confusing. But she persevered.

She would come home from high school most Fridays to find a note saying, “Gone to Yellowdog” which meant they had gone camping, as a family, down to the river for the weekend without her. There were many other verbally abusive altercations over the years, but still her mother would insist on her sending father’s day cards and making birthday phone calls, only to have him ridicule her for either calling too late or sending a gift that didn’t measure up. But she kept trying throughout the 39 years, hoping to be loved and accepted as part of the family. It never happened.

When she arrived at his house on Monday after taking her mother to Houston, she found him sitting alone in the kitchen across from the pool table, which took up the entire living area upon entry. This pool table was another representation of hurtful memories between herself and this man she was supposed to call “Dad” but never could. She silently walked over to him and leaned against the pool table. He looked at her with tears streaming down his face. This strong, tough, “Texas proud” man sat on a barstool in front of the girl he’d been so mean to over the years, and cried. He asked how her mother was and she told him she was doing well. She gently and kindly explained what little she knew about the next steps, and promised to keep him informed. Her heart broke for him as she saw that the life had left his eyes. He was clearly scared to lose his wife. She knew he could not live without her, and together at that very moment, they silently acknowledged that.

And this girl looked at him with compassion. This girl didn’t mention the tears. This girl simply looked through the paperwork and bills that needed to be paid, and together they took care of business. She stood there, patiently handing him checks, one by one, to sign. His massive hands were curled and cramped into claws by arthritis and he could barely hold a pen, but she stood there and waited patiently as it took him at least 5-10 minutes to sign his name on each check. She would then write the information in the check register for him, seal the payment in the envelope, carefully put a stamp on the top right hand corner and put the correspondence in a stack to be mailed. Each step was important to him, and with a loving heart she did exactly as she was told.

…and there she was, on a cold December day, standing for hours in silence, the abused helping the abuser.

All was forgiven.

10 thoughts on “…and there she was

  1. Wow.

    My heart goes out to you. This all has to be so tough and I am so sorry.

    You are a gift. And tho DIG and your Mom couldn’t recognize that, it doesn’t change the true-ness of it.

    Love you!

    Sent from a device that sometimes uses AutoCorrect for evil.

  2. What a beautiful post. Life is hard…and beautiful…and scary…and exhilerating…sometimes all at once. May you and your family be surrounded by love and well supported.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts, Christie. Yes, I am surrounded by Love and have no negative feelings about anything in my past whatsoever. I believe I create my own reality and I choose abundance, joy and peace. May you have a life filled with all you dream of every day. Thank you for subscribing to my blog!

  3. I know you would not want me to, but this has left me with weepy eyes and a bleeding heart. However, I also know that your life experience has had a hand in making you YOU…which is an incredible, awesome YOU! You’ve been able to turn your pain and rejection into a YOU who is optimistic, generous, grateful and always willing to listen and lend support. Shame on DIG and Babes for their treatment of you, but in a twist this has also made you who you are due to your amazing choices along the way to rise above. Love you lots my friend!

    1. Thank you, Lorrie, my friend! Ya know, I blame no one because we are all doing the best we can with what we have and what we know. I truly believe my mom has no idea what my perception of everything was, growing up with her. I’m grateful for it all…❤️

  4. What a gift you’ve given your readers. So sorry about what you’re going through, but using your pain to help others cope with the pain in their lives is such a beautiful way to transform it — in Buddhism we call it Tonglen. Love you, Soul Sistah.

    1. Thank you, Tammy. The practice of Tonglen and the understanding of “sending and taking” has helped me in so many ways. Seeing you thrive in your new home warms my heart more than I can say. I love you too, Soul Sistah.

  5. Terri, I just read this post and it just brought tears to my eyes. Oh the suffering you have endured dear friend. I’m mostly thinking of your courage to keep going..Go Terri Go! You have been very brave and I love you for it. I’m happy you found some peace with your Stepfather. I love you.

    1. Hi Joy. Thank you for your kind words! Luckily, I found peace on my own years ago before I saw him again, so it was easy to feel compassion and forgiveness for him that day and the weeks to follow. He died a couple of months later, and because of the time I spent with him while my mom was in Houston having treatment, I think I was the only who was aware he was slowly dying from the moment he became aware of her diagnosis. He was determined to go first because he knew he couldn’t live without her.

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