Monday, May 12, 2008

My Other Mother

On Friday I counted my own mom since Mother's Day was coming up. Today I want to mention my stepmom, Mary. Mary came into my life when I was about 11. From the first day I met her until now she has never been anything but sweet and kind toward my brother and me. She has always been generous and thoughtful. She's the type of person who will hear you make an offhand remark about something you enjoy or favor and she files it away for future reference so she can surprise you when you least expect it.

She is patient and willing to overlook an offense and always look for the better side of a person, almost to a fault. Actually, with no disrespect intended, it's probably a huge part of why she and my dad are still married. He requires a lot of patience, overlooking, and searching for the better side. She's very willing to to give the benefit of doubt.

She is one of the best listeners I know. She's able to be very non-judgmental but gently asks incisive questions and makes soft recommendations that lend clarity and perspective. When I was a teenager and went through that stage where I was sure my parents were idiots whose sole desire was to ruin my life, Mary was there to listen and I was comfortable talking to her. I confided a lot in her during that time. For that alone I owe her more than I could ever repay.

She's been a support to my brother, and me, and my kids every bit as much as she has been to her own son. She kept her old house as a rental and has let my brother live there and worked with him when unemployment was making rent a hardship. Instead of getting involved in "which grandparent can buy the most stuff" game she has very quietly chosen to pay for various lessons and camps and other activities over the years so my kids can have the opportunity to explore interests and develop talents. She quietly slipped me a key to her beach cottage and told me, "Whenever you need a sanity break it will only cost you a tank of gas to get there."

My parents really never quite got my sense of humor, that's not to say they are humorless people, they just never knew what to do with my particular brand. I often left them shaking their heads and wondering just how many screws I had loose. Mary got me, and she didn't shake her head. She laughed. When my kids came along she laughed with them too and and in so doing, reminded me I needed to do the same.

Mary may be nearing 60 and have a crap knee that gives her crazy amounts of pain but she has never stopped playing. Whether she is digging sand castles at her beloved beach, playing board games with the kids, or taking a wild ride on the tree swing we used to have in the backyard (Sadly, that got dismantled along with the perilous zipline after I demolished my arm.) she is the first one who is up for fun.

I have to thank Dad for bringing Mary into our lives. Mom once told me it was harder to allow me to develop a friendship with Mary than to encourage respect for my dad because she felt some jealousy. She recognized Mary's decency and kindness and realized she had to permit me to explore that relationship. I have to thank Mom for giving me the freedom to welcome Mary the way Mary welcomed me.

24 comments:

EmBee said...

Yeah Mary! Seems like such a sweet a lovely gal.

Whoa, wait... Am I actually the first to post? Well, yeah me!

airplanejayne said...

okay - blogger is being weird again....I'll try this one more time:

Wonderful post, Lime. And btw, I think Mary is lucky to have you, too!

Mona said...

that is so sweet. No wonder you have has such an amalgam of rich experiences! You had so many valuable people to learn and imbibe from! :)

G-Man said...

You've gleaned the best from them all Michelle!
Nice tribute...xox

furiousBall said...

What a warm smile she has. I want to hug her and I've never met her.

SignGurl said...

I love that Mary is as adventurous as you are! What a fun person. I could have used a Mary growing up.

Jeni said...

This tribute along with the one you did for your Mom were both really, really great! You're so lucky to have to strong women in your corner to help keep you and your family moving on in the right direction. Mary sounds very much like how my younger daughter may be in 30 years or so as she too has that ability to hear and remember little things people mention they like or are interested in and when you least expect it, she comes through with some little gifts that fit right in with those interests.
And I LOVE reading about your Mom and her spunky attitude -especially the "everything purple!" My kind of people -both of them. Thanks for the introduction to them both.

S said...

Oh my god! When I saw her on that zipline I almost croaked. I noticed she made it down safely!

Mary seems like an awesome gal

Logophile said...

What a great set of moms. You are very blessed.

Beach Bum said...

Great and loving post about a fantasic lady.

ciara said...

another awesome person in your life, you are lucky to have not just one, but two! i really loved this post and the one about your mom.

coopernicus said...

How lucky to have someone like that in your life...she sounds like a genuine human being...

Mike M said...

What wonderful words to honor a mother, Lime!!!!

Suldog said...

The pictures alone are enough to tell me what sort of a person Mary is - a good one who has fun.

Thanks for sharing such a loving portrait, Lime.

tsduff said...

I enjoyed your write up today. And you have onehelluvah second Mom if she's willing to swing down on that rope - WOW! You are a superb storyteller, as well as having great writing skills to detail your Step Mom so beautifully. :)

VE said...

Very nice. I'm dealing with the same issues of bringing someone into my kids lives and they are at about the age Mary came into yours. I hope they have the same view of her as you do of Mary because step parenting isn't easy!

Kathryn said...

What a blessing to have such wonderful women in your life. Both your mother and Mary. Amazing, really.
Fabulous post!

Fortress Guinness said...

looks and sounds like a great lady...!!! lucky old you...!!! xxx

david mcmahon said...

Any good listener is a person to admire.

M said...

ah well, you know why she is such a great gal---her name is Mary(-;

KFarmer said...

That picture reminds me of my mom, also a Mary, who took a tumble in my sisters back yard on a swing and sat there laughing~ You're Mary sounds a lot like mine, wonderful :)

Cheesy said...

How rich you are! Ya know if there were more Marys in the world of blended families this would be a wonderful world indeed. Hugs to you for sharing and I hope some who visit you and are steps 'rents take away a valuable lesson~~ Happy Mommers day to you limers!

Autumn said...

I found this post through David. I'm in tears, I just lost my stepmom a few weeks ago.
My stepmom also welcomed me with open arms, with love and caring. I already miss her so much.
I wish those Disney fairy tales didn't depict stepmoms as evil. Very often they are just the opposite.
What a beautiful tribute to Mary, I'm sure she feels just as lucky to have you in her life.

Sudiegirl said...

I am touched by this entry...I always vowed that if I ever became a stepmother, I'd try to be one like Mary.

I've never had the opportunity, but wanting that is good, right? I'm glad you had a Mary in your life...the world needs more of them.