Friday, July 18, 2014

A Woman of Significance

"I've learned that people will forget what you said, 
people will forget what you did, 
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
~ Maya Angelou

My father was the first person I called when Boomer died (read: He's One of Us).  Honesty and frankness are two of my favorite qualities about my dad.  It's not uncommon for that same honesty and frankness to also lack subtlety or softness.  Dad is unapologetically not that way; his blunt truth can sometimes come across abrasive and insensitive.  It's taken me a long time to figure that out.  But Dad always has my best interest at heart; of this I am certain and so fortunate for.    In that initial, brief call I'd made to Dad with the devastatingly-real news, he said two things to me, "Shannon, you're free (read: Reality).  Now, you've got to watch your back.  You are not blood.  You are the second wife.  You are not the mother of Mike's children.  You do not count.  You do not matter."  Abrasively harsh and frankly honest was his message, and precisely how it both played and felt in the hours, days, weeks, months, and year+ after Boomer died...I was insignificant.  Until this week - - 1 year, 8 months later...

We'd been in Florida (read: Florida, What the What) one month when I met Boomer's first-cousin, "D".  D lives on the east coast of the state.  Each summer he, together with his kids and grandkids, rents a house on Ft. Myers Beach.  Boomer spoke fondly of D, always referring to him as a "class act."   D's mother and Boomer's dad were siblings.  It was a special evening for us to unite with D and his family for dinner.  We had a lovely time:  reuniting, reminiscing, telling stories old and new.     
Cousins:  Boomer, D, and D's sister, Summer 2011  
A few weeks after Boomer died, D personally called me.  He warmly expressed his condolences, offered friendship support, welcoming me to reach out to him if I needed to and assured me that in time I would be o.k.  You see, D is also a widower;  his wife,"P", passed away seven years earlier.  His generous phone gesture was nothing short of a class act.  D and I have casually kept in touch via social media since our first meeting three years ago.   I think he even follows this blog.  But it was his invitation this year to visit with him and his brood, during their annual summer furlough on the west coast, that touched my heart in ways which made me feel like a woman of significance.  

It began as simple as him shouting to me amid the rain storm, as I opened the SMO-vee door, "Stay There!!!" and he dashed out with an umbrella to escort me into the house.  From there the welcome greetings and hugs from everyone was astounding.  It was as though we'd known each other for years and just seen each other recently.  I was so nervous upon arriving, it was the first social visit of any kind with members of Boomer's family or his closest friends since he died.   D and the crew made me feel right at home - - one of them.   We enjoyed a wonderful meal and chatted for hours about all sorts of things.  D shared a very special story, so special in fact, he told it twice that night...

It was Christmas, 1964, the year before he and P were married, and family gathered at I believe Chuck and Nancy's house (Boomer's dad and mom).  It was the first time P was meeting members of the extended part of the family.    Boomer's mom, Nancy, made a special effort to ensure P had a gift to open - - a beautiful pair of earrings.   D told the story, commenting that P never forgot the kind gesture Nancy extended her way.  Clearly it made a permanent sentimental impression on D too.   Nancy made P feel special, welcome - - significant.   Of what Boomer had told me about his mom (read:  It's Your Mother), it was just like her to do that.

In listening to D so lovingly share the story I realized I was in the midst of having a very similar experience to P's from 50 years earlier.  In spending the evening with D and his family, their warmth, friendship, conversation and generosity made me, someone they all only met once previously three years ago, feel special, welcome - - significant.   D was Nancy and I was P.   As Boomer's wife/widow, I was a welcomed member of their family.  I am forever touched and immeasurably grateful.

As D walked me out to the car at end of the night he said, "It was so great to spend the evening with you Shannon.  Thank you for coming.  And remember, I will be very offended if you don't call me when you visit Miami."   "Oh aboslutely D!  You can count on it."

SMO & Boomer's cousin,  D, Summer 2014
Boomer was so right.  D is a class act.  I'm honored and grateful to know him.  As for my Dad's truths, he was partially right, yet forgot to remind me and reinforce one very important point... I DO indeed matter.  I DO indeed count.  While subtlety and softness are not his forte, as a woman of significance, I know it is mine.

I thank you D from the center of my heart.  I'll never forget how you made me feel.    Boomer thanks you too.

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