For my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday celebration the family planned a surprise cruise up the Nepean River, in Western Sydney (Australia). It included a buffet luncheon on a beautiful old paddle steamer. Weather wise it was a perfect, sunny, autumn day. Our five children, now young adults with very busy lives and lots of commitments, all took the day off work and study and outings to participate in this wonderful celebration of a life lived well.
I am not in fact her daughter-in-law. I am married to her son-in-law, Paul. Sounds complicated but let me explain. Paul’s first wife, Ruth’s daughter, died at a very young age from cancer. Ruth and John (her husband, who has since died) and her remaining two children, all welcomed me with open arms and I have never failed to feel enormous gratitude for this. Their attitude made, what is a very challenging situation (blending two families), a whole lot easier and more joy filled.
If anybody has succeeded in living in the moment, it is Ruth. Her daughter had died and instead of holding on to what once was, she was able to be loving and welcoming to the new wife, me. This had to have taken enormous courage and love and an extraordinary capacity to let go. She could easily have shown resentment towards me. She could have chosen to look at the fact that I was now where her daughter once had been, living her life if you like. She did not. She embraced the fact that her son-in-law and grandchildren would benefit from having a wife and mother. And I love her for it and feel such gratitude.
As a result, she has rightly benefitted in a wonderful way. She and I have a much cherished, beautiful relationship and she see’s her grandchildren all the time, partly because I have fostered their relationship with her. One of my daughters (step daughter if you like but we don’t use that term), her granddaughter, at 24years old, visits her every week for dinner. For every family function, as many of us who are not working, attend. Ruth and I go for coffee(my one addiction) and lunch frequently. I have taken her to hospital for operations when her son and daughter would have had to take a day off work to get her there. We have blended beautifully.
Why? Because Ruth was able to live in the moment, let go and embrace the now. Because Ruth is a woman of courage, an older, wiser woman. Because Ruth chose to react with love and openness to me. When we live in the moment, we can also add love and joy to the lives of those around us.
I’d like to believe I would have loved her even if she hadn’t embraced me but I am so grateful she made it sooooo easy. Simply, I love her and I appreciate her simple, non-judgemental acceptance of me. I also love her company. My own mother and I and Ruth also love to lunch together and my Mum, also adores her. How lucky am I to have met her. Granted, I never forget that her daughter Dianne died way too young and from all I’ve heard, she was a wonderful woman but, as none of us can change that, all we can do is live our best together and try to celebrate Dianne’s life by living well, loving well and cocooning her children with all the love we can muster. This is part of the beauty of living in the moment. Bye for now. Live well. Leanne