Last week we had our first days of fall-like weather. Tuesday started off with clear skies and cool temperatures, and by noon it was pleasantly warm. Then clouds moved in with showers by late afternoon. This summer was one of the wettest summers anyone can remember. Two-thirds of the days in June brought rain and better than a dozen days in each of July and August.
Luckily it did not rain the last weekend in August. That was the time my family decided in May that we would get together to celebrate my mom, their Grandma Ellie. I had some ideas about how the weekend would go but knew I needed to stay flexible. With my sons and their families and my daughter with her daughter, we had four kids ages two to nine and seven adults to consider. We were all in and out on Saturday and together for dinner, where I proposed a toast to my mom and remembered how fond she was of my kids and their families.
The weather cooperated both days. Sunday we had tickets to a Portland Sea Dogs game, the minor league farm team for the Red Sox, and an event that my mom would have enjoyed as much as we did. The seats were perfect, and there was enough action and food to keep the kids happy. We didn't realize it was a double header until the end of the first game, so we had twice the fun. The day closed out with dinner at Applebee's, where I commented that my mom would have enjoyed the day and I thought there was a good chance she had a hand in how well everything worked out.
It was the perfect way to wrap up the summer.
June had been a time to work through so many thoughts and feelings I'd had over the past year, putting words to my grief and frustration so I could see it all in one place. For me, writing is a way to make sense of what I don't understand or connect what appears to be unrelated.
In July I was ready to create an album of the photos my mom had collected since she was a girl. I made new pages for an album she had and cross-referenced photos so each one was labeled and dated. The process of finally getting the photos mounted had been months in the making and felt like such an accomplishment. It was a way to bring together the people and events in her life that made her happy, that she wanted to remember.
In the process of putting all the pieces together I had time to think about how my relationship with my mom had changed over the years. Neither one of us gave up on trying to understand the other. It wasn't always easy and there were times that we knew the other was frustrated and unable to see a different perspective. I realized that we had come to forgive each other for the hurt we felt, the misunderstandings and disagreements. We didn't ignore the past, but we were able to see that it was the past and we couldn't change it.
In my Mothers Day card to my mom just days before she fell and was hospitalized, I wrote:
We stand where we are/ Because our steps brought us here/ Thank you for walking the way with me.
I have that card now and am grateful that I had the chance to share what I felt. In recognizing the growth in the relationship with my mom, I have had time to think about the things in my own life that I wish had been different, decisions and choices that I would make differently now. Then I applied the meaning of forgiveness to my own life, giving up the hope that the past could have been any different.
With that, in July of this summer, I forgave myself. And like I've heard so many times, when the student is ready the teacher appears. For me, in so many ways....
On July 31 I read a quote by Alden Howlan that someone posted on Instagram:
"The day the child realizes that all adults are imperfect, he becomes an adolescent; the day he forgives them, he becomes an adult; the day he forgives himself, he becomes wise."
The journey continues....