This week, I'm counting my stepmother, Mary. I know many people have had less than wonderful experiences with stepparents so I am especially thankful for Mary. My folks split up when I was 6. Mary came into my life when I was 11. She has never been anything less than warm, accepting, kind, and loving to my brother and me. There were times as a teenager when I felt closer to her and more able to confide in her than either of my parents. She listens without judgement and if there is some point of disagreement she is completely gentle in offering it.
She has the cutest giggle which is so easy to elicit from her. She has never quite grown up or forgotten what it's like to be a kid. She's got a really rotten knee that prevents some of her more hearty antics but she's enough of a kid that it took very little coaxing for her to try that rope swing we used to have in the backyard. When I woke up from surgery after the zipline incident the first words I heard were my mother saying, 'At 37 years old you'd think common sense would have kicked in by now.' The next words I heard were Mary gently responding with, 'Well, I'm 57 and that rope swing was a lot of fun. I can understand why she was ziplining.' I know my mom was just worried about me and that's how it came out but I sure appreciated Mary sticking up for me in her soft way at that moment.
Mary is the one who buys my kids pogo sticks and skate boards. She's the one who got down on their level when they were small and encouraged playing in mud. She's the one who decided she didn't want to enter the grandparent competition and see who could buy the most 'stuff' at Christmas and has payed for various lessons over the years so the kids can explore different interests and develop talents.
My mom has an awful lot of skills (taught herself guitar, excellent carpenter, accomplilshed seamstress, tech guru, learned harp only about 3 years ago, is always learning something new) but has never been a cook. I learned how not to starve from mom. Mary taught me the kitchen could be fun and not to be afraid of experimenting. She taught me how to have fun there.
This week Mary buried her 92 year old mother. It was time for the rest of us to be the support to the lady who has always been a loving support to us. It reminded me that we need to tell the people we are close to what they mean to us. I told Mary and now I'm telling you as I count the sweetest and most unwicked stepmother ever.