Sometimes we get choked up and it’s not about what just happened, but in fact an earlier event that was stuck in our throats— or our hearts.
If you’ve read “Second-Chance Mother,” you know that as a rule my emotional reactions are delayed. Something in my nature about putting on a brave face and then breaking down later — in private.
I saw my Tucson grandkids today for my step-gson Nick’s 17th birthday. It was nice, great food, a little time with all the kids. I’m always tired after these visits. Especially when it’s en masse, rather than just a grandchild or a two at a time. That works better for me, but these days it’s been harder to find time.
I had an hour or so with my granddaughter Naomi after picking her up for the bday party. We went to Starbucks and I got caught up on her life and the zombie prom she went to on Friday night. I’d been so worried about telling her about my book and how I didn’t think she should read it until she’s older, that parts of it might be upsetting for her. I told her that her stepmom Jenn had read it and agreed. She was, like, uh, okay. Go figger… Because she doesn’t enjoy reading? Or because as a teen, she has way more pressing things going on.
Here I was worried that if she were “forbidden” she would rebel and want to get her hands on it ASAP! So, phew! She’s certainly a different person than I was at that age. If my mother or grandmother had told me they’d written a book about their life, I would have rushed to read it, especially if I suspected that I might appear in it. At least I think so. I still would, maybe because their lives were such a mystery to me.
Fast forward to I’m home. I found a phone message from a neighbor, a man who is very involved in the HOA, and I figured it had something to do with the upcoming newsletter, of which I am co-chair. I wrote it down and planned on calling him in the morning. So, I’m sitting out on our patio, decompressing from the day, and he walked by with his dog. (Our wall is low enough that tall people can see in.) He called out, “hi Denise,” and I looked up and said, “hi Bill, I just got back from visiting my grandchildren in Tucson, and I got your message.” I walked out of the screened patio and close to the wall.
He said that he had read my book (gulp! I knew his wife had) and he started to say enjoyed it, then began to correct himself. I told him that I know “enjoy” isn’t quite the right word, that it’s a hard read for most people. He said that my writing was excellent, that he appreciated my telling my story as difficult as it was, and thanked me for writing it. He asked me if I’d seen Naomi. I said yes. He asked how old she is now, and I replied, almost 16.
He said that he is estranged from his eldest daughter and is still trying to figure out how to handle that. I had to say that family relationships pose challenges, even when it has nothing to do with adoption.
Ain’t it the truth?
Everyone takes away something different from my book. It seems like the themes are universal. I am gratified and saddened at the same time. Shouldn’t family be the easiest thing? In my experience, not so much. Friendship feels easier to me, especially when it lasts over decades. It provides far more unconditional love. But I know that’s not the case for everyone.
Back to my point. I got teary-eyed after Bill’s over-the-wall review. Unlike any of the many prior in-person raves I’ve received.
I think it brought out the sadness that I felt leaving Naomi and Gabe, and yes Nick and Katie too, that I could not express. That I am not a constant presence in their lives as I once was after moving to Arizona.
Is it situational? Or is it me? I’m thinking the latter.