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Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Women in My Life

I realize this is a somewhat provocative title, but it's the most appropriate.

All of the men in my life, my father, my uncle, my step-father, they all disappeared out of my life, leaving me to my find my own way. The women, however, stayed and took care of me, giving me the direction in my life.

My parents separated when I was three, and divorced at four. I had no siblings - two brothers died at birth. We all carried the same name; I'm the III for this reason.

My mother was relatively old when I was born, certainly older than the average for a child during this era. She was 33, while my father was 38. Because of this, my mother never made friends with any of the moms of my friends - by the time I went to 1st grade, they were in their mid-20s, and my mom was in her 40s.

Prior to 1st grade, I spent all of my days with my grandmother. Later, after the divorce, my mom also moved away for a couple of years, so during this time I was raised by my grandmother.

With the divorce, my father moved away, and I only saw him infrequently from this point on; I never got to know any of his family, so my family consisted of my mother's family.

My maternal grandmother was very important to me. She was devoted to me and showered me with love and attention. When I was with her, she took care of me; when I was with my mother, I took care of myself.

So my grandmother was the first woman that was very important to me. She continued to be so until her death, two months after I was married at age 22.

I had two maternal aunts. One, a twin to my mother (J) and the other a few years older (K). J was less interested in children than even my mother; my Aunt K however, was a warm loving person. She was the 2nd important woman in my life.

Aunt K had a daughter, S. She is 13 years older than me, and has also been an important influence in my life. Both K and S, along with J and my mother, were women that took charge of their environment; they were a generation or two ahead of their contemporaries. For example, both K and S drove boats for skiing when we would go to our local lake. They were the only women I ever met at in the 60s that would, or could, drive a boat. My wife drives our boat now, but I still see few women driving boats, 50 years later.

These women, my grandmother, my Aunt K and S, all stepped into a void in my life and taught me so much. I obtained the central Christian beliefs from them, along with other moral values. With them, I always felt I had a family. With my mother, it was always a lonely, isolated, hateful environment. After my mother remarried when I was 10, she and her husband C seemed bent on finding out how much they could argue in restaurants, how much of an aggravation they could be to other people, how much they could embarrass me in public with their mean, hateful dispositions.

My mother, meanwhile, mocked Christianity as "an old, backward religion". I suffered from her religious views, her constant switching from one belief system to another, until she died when I was 34. I referred to her religious beliefs as "the religion of the month club". I don't miss her.

My Aunt J has similar beliefs, or non-beliefs, depending on your view. I don't seek to spend any time with her either.

Both my mother and my Aunt J felt they were little princesses. They both came up the daughters of a wealthy man (for that area). Because of this, they spent considerable time pretending to have money, pretending to be important. But in reality they were mean, cheap, stingy women. My Aunt J used to drive her travel coach van across country, stop and spend the night in a WalMart parking lot to avoid paying for an RV or motel room, meanwhile wearing furs and driving Cadillacs.

They both learned that they could coerce my Aunt K and get their way by getting into a public place, then create a scene. My Aunt K, embarrassed by their course behavior and public scene, would agree to almost anything to avoid the embarrassment.

My Aunt J, at my daughter's wedding, seized this opportunity to force her way over something which, because of the wedding, was not convenient or appropriate to the rest of us. However, I had observed this stunt too many times, and I refused to be manipulated by this. When she couldn't get her way, finding herself publicly humiliated, she stomped out of our house and has never returned. I don't miss her either.

So my mother, and her twin sister J, have been influences to avoid in my life - to reject anything they use to coerce people to get their way. They have also been important in my life - how not to conduct your life. I'm glad their negative influence has been removed from my life. I'm glad my daughters and wife have not had to spend any time around them.

At age 21, I truly met my wife. I say truly, because while I had known her slightly since I was 14, I only got to really know her at 21, when I started to date her. We got married at age 22.

My grandmother loved my wife. She got to know my wife during the last year of her life, and said she felt good leaving me to P, that I would have someone to take care of me. It was like a release, and I think she felt OK to move on.

My wife has been both the most wonderful woman in my life, as well as the most important person in my life. She has been with me now for 36 years of marriage. She has been a solid foundation for me to draw from. My goal, everyday, is to make my wife feel appreciated and loved. I think it is easier to make someone feel loved then it is to make them feel appreciated.

My life has been wonderful and fulfilled since I met and married my wife.

My two daughters, H and S, as adults, have shown me a lot of attention and have made me feel special. They are both strong women in their own right, and making their way in the world. They are topics of a later blog, as they are too big in my life to be limited to the topic of this blog.

And finally, my wife's sister V, has always been a good, kind woman to me. She has suffered more than I would have liked to have seen, but goes through her life with a positive outlook, and makes a positive contribution to everyone around her. We are so happy she has found more happiness in her life in recent years, and has a husband that appreciates her.

And that's the women in my life!

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