When my first husband and I married, back in 1980, we were both very lucky to have many of our grandparents except my dad’s father, who’d passed away the previous December, 1979.
My ex-mother-in-law’s parents, the Smith’s, have been mentioned here and there throughout this blog because they, like my dear grandmother (Nana), were very involved in our lives from the beginning.
After waking up this morning, I opened the window and listened to the music of rain against the rooftop. I remembered a moment in time that often crosses my mind on lazy, rainy days. It must have been the mid-1980s and I was looking for work. That day, it was – as you’ve guessed by now – raining.
I’d ventured out a little further than usual and found myself in the outskirts of Los Angeles, in a city called Highland Park, which is where the Smith’s lived.
It was lunchtime, I was cold and damp… and frustrated. I remember wondering if I should stop by. There were no cell phones yet, so it would be a proper uninvited drop-in, don’t-cha know! (They came from a different time, like my own grandparents, who thought nothing of taking a Sunday drive and showing up unbidden, at the chagrin of those of us who need preparation for visits. But I digress.)
As you might have also guessed by now, I did stop by. They were just sitting down to lunch and they set another place at the table, which was SO them! I stayed about an hour and left with a warm tummy and heart. They were as much MY grandparents as my (then) husband’s.
Grandma & Grandpa Smith were deeply devout Christians who were caretakers in the church, the family and community. She made excellent pie and he played the guitar while we sang hymns around the kitchen table. There was never a time where family gathered around the television and in fact, I don’t remember them having one.
The Smith’s were there throughout the entire twenty years of my first marriage – from the beginning…
… when they brought along their friend, Maizie, who was as much a part of the family as anyone else. (Maizie gave me a locket of the Serenity Prayer that I cherished. She had no family but she had the Smith’s and all of us. When she died of cancer, it broke my heart.)…
… to the end, though none of us realized at the time it actually would be the end.
Divorce has collateral damage. How well anyone who has divorced knows. The Smith’s were a part of that. I tried to stay in touch with everyone but my (now late) ex-husband was not having it. By the time he and I had made amends, it was too late. Dementia has taken the lives of the Smith’s and nearly everyone else in his family had moved on without me. I was a bit of a pariah. He felt bad about it but there are consequences and reactions for all actions… both his and mine. <<< Remember that, kids! Super important.
(Also, a super-HUGE-shout-out to his parents in heaven, as I was able to talk to and hug them before they passed, and his sister, who is my sister/friend.)
Here’s the most important part of my story and it hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.
There was a space and time when the Smith’s and the entire family of my first-husband and I were very close. Divorce does NOT take away those memories or feelings. That can NEVER be taken away!
Sometimes you wonder if the things you’ve done or said make a difference in someone’s life and I am here to tell you… YES! … because the Smith’s made a difference in my life. I loved them and miss their gentle kindness. Heck, I miss singing hymns around the table while Grandpa Smith played his guitar.
It matters. YOU matter. Remember that!