On Saturday, I wrote a blog post about how words matter. Today I’m going to get off of my high horse and tell you how what you (or actually I) didn't say matters too.
I had a pretty typical Mother’s Day – it was a good one. I got a nice gift from my girls; I had my sister, niece and mother over for dinner. You know – pretty normal Mother’s Day fare. What I didn’t do was call my step-mother, Jeanie.
Jeanie deserved better from me and I’m so ashamed of myself.
Jeanie and my dad got married when I was eleven. We lived with Dad and Jeanie, so she has been a driving force in my life for a very long time. We had the usual discord – but that discord was a function of a teenager learning to make her own way in the world, not the discord that you hear about with dysfunctional blended families. We weren't dysfunctional in the least. Let me tell you a little bit about the things Jeanie did for me. Some may seem small to you, but each memory is a brick in the very strong relationship I have with this awesome woman.
Jeanie married into a family with three teenagers. And she stayed. In spite of the fact that we were typical, sometimes crappy teenagers. She stayed.
Jeanie cooked dinner every night and we ate together as often as possible. When one of us wasn’t there for dinner, there was always a plate in the refrigerator for us when we got home. Sometimes that plate had these little almond cookies that Jeanie made on Chinese food night. Those were my favorites! She also made this really great chicken salad with grapes. And she let us stick our fingers (and other things) in the candles at the dinner table even though it drove her crazy.
And she made us clean the house. I thought it was mean at the time, but learning how to clean a bathroom is a pretty important part of growing up. So I'm sorry for the eye-rolls, Jeanie. And thanks for not telling me that I'd thank you some day. Even though you probably knew I would.
Jeanie helped me prepare for the musicals we did in high school. She helped me with my costumes and make-up. She read lines with me. She was so happy that I got the lead in Oklahoma! my senior year. She supported me at every turn.
Jeanie gave me the gift of a little brother when I was almost 14. Before Michael was born, she was my step-mother. It was partly through the common love we felt for him and caring together for him she became my friend as well.
Jeanie has a wonderful laugh. She loves life and always finds something positive. She shines when she smiles and when she’s doing something she loves.
Jeanie is also a wonderful counselor. I’ve gone to her with problems and challenges and she listens carefully and offers comfort and wisdom.
Jeanie is a wonderful wife. She loves my father and they have a really great life together.
Jeanie is a wonderful grandmother. She loves my kids, and she enjoys spending time with them. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard her say “These are Walter’s grandkids.” She always says, “These are our grandkids.” What a great gift for mine and my siblings’ children. She’d do anything for them and they know that and appreciate that.
So Jeanie, I neglected you yesterday and for that I am so sorry. Please know that I love you with all of my heart and I appreciate the mother you have been to me!