Thursday, March 26, 2009

Decisions -Good, Bad and Indifferent

Things happen. Things change. Sometimes the changes that come about in our lives are sudden. Sometimes drastic. Sometimes very painful too. And yes, there are many changes that transpire that change each of us in ways, large and small, that we may realize at the time and others that we don't realize what good or bad came with those changes until many, many years later.

Today was one of those days when a change took place for me. It was a change that was disappointing initially but will be resolved, hopefully, next week and will be okay then.

What happened you see involves not just me but several of my classmates from high school as well. A group of five of us -girls, who graduated together from high school, back in 1962, have been meeting for lunch, once a month (the last Thursday of the month) for the past 15 months now. It's a friendly little get-together for us. A way of keeping a little better in contact, communicating what's new and exciting in each of our lives and having a nice little meal together in the process.

One of my closest friends from high school who I rarely get a chance to see, much less spend a little more time that 10-15 minutes or so with, had a bit of a bad run the past couple of years. She and her husband had been living in Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans, until Hurricane Katrina came along and pretty much destroyed their home. Fortunately for them, they also had a condo in Florida so they have been living there since Katrina blew through town.

Last summer, fate took another turn at her in the form of colo-rectal cancer. Now my friend had also had a run-in back in the early 90s with cancer. I don't recall now exactly what type of cancer that was, just that it involved the female organs but was not cervical. She had the usual treatments then, chemo, radiation, etc., and eventually got a clean bill of health -including too a new hair color once her hair grew back in. (She'd alwas been a brunette, but when her hair grew back, it came back curly and RED!)

With the colo-rectal cancer, she had surgery -a resection -and yes, more chemo. Early in February of this year, she wrote to tell me she had completed her rounds of the chemo now and the doctors had released her to do pretty much what she wants to do -just has to report in a few times a year for routine checkups and a test or two here and there.

In that note, she had also written what itinerary she and her husband have planned for the coming months. They love to travel and have done that -extensively -over the years of their marriage. While reading that note, it dawned on me that quite possibly she might happen to be up in this area at some time near the date when the other classmates and I have our regular lunch date so I wrote and made mention of this and that we could always change our meeting time too if she were to be around home so she could join us.

Well, that started the ball rolling and we -the original group -changed our meeting date from our normal lunch date which would have been today (Thursday, March 26th) to tomorrow, March 27th. And we also changed our meeting place too so that we could gather at a new restaurant that opened back in January in Philipsburg. The original group had been talking about checking that new place out and we decided this occasion would be just the ticket then to meet there with our mutual friend/classmate.

I contacted several other girls from our class and things were progressing really great. One was coming up from Carlisle, PA and she had mentioned this lunch meeting to her older sister (who happens to be a good friend of mine too) and her sister decided she too would like to come over from her home in Cleveland to join us too. A few others had responded that they would like to attend and before you knew it, there was a group of twelve of us who were planning to attend this "event" if you will.

That is until today!

The reason our friend was coming up to these Pennsylvania hills now was to accompany her mother back to their family home which is "over the river and through the hills" -about 12-15 miles from where I live. Her mother spends the winter in Florida with her son and returns back here in the spring to stay in the family home until fall, when she then returns to Florida for the winter.

And, today after they reported to the airport, went through all the check-in process, the security clearances and such, their flight was put on delay due to weather conditions. By 11 a.m., their flight was cancelled, completely! They were told they would have to make other flight arrangements. In trying to book another flight, they then learned the earliest flight they could get out of Florida, into Harrisburg, was not available until NEXT TUESDAY! Can you believe that? Incredible, huh?

So, due to extenuating circumstances, we -my classmates and I -will still have our lunch as we had planned tomorrow -Friday, the 27th -but now, we will also try to have another lunch, hopefully next Wednesday, provided the flight holds as planned and all other things -the moon, stars,all the planets align properly and that the sun don't fall too! (That's one of my own old line favorites -"as long as the sun don't fall" -just in case you were wondering about that phrase!)

So, there's a change that came through and landed on our heads, bringing with it other possibilities too though.

You see, as things are, my friend and I have been able to maintain our friendship fairly well over the past 47 years since graduation. When she and her husband married, I was their matron of honor. When I was hired by the lovely (NOT) FBI and went to work in Washington, D.C. back in February of 1964, my friend and her husband were then living in a suburb of D.C. where her husband worked for the Nat'l Weather Service so the first week I spent at work in D.C., I bunked on their couch till I could line up a shared apartment near by with some other kids also working at the Bureau at that time. Back in 1971, when I had to have surgery to remove my gall bladder (and appendix too), my friend and her husband kept my older daughter while I was in the hospital so my Mom could then come to visit me in the hospital. (Back then, small children were not usually allowed as visitors to patients, ya know.)

Anyway, the point is, we have maintained our friendship over all these years although because of distance -I moved back to Pennsylvania and she and her family went on to move to Louisiana -and well, it's been pretty much a hit and miss in terms of personal visits but we still kept in touch as much as possible. And though things won't be quite like we'd planned for the lunch tomorrow, it will still work out for lunch next week. And, the nice thing is too that next Wednesday, there is a very good possibility that my older daughter will be able to get up here and go to lunch with us then! She's really excited about the possibility that she will get a chance to see her Mom's friend from way back and who she remembers staying at her home, remembers her children too from those days as well.

But, another thing happened today as well. My older daughter and a co-worker of hers decided when they got off work this morning, after having worked over a couple extra hours, to go to lunch. And as they were eating, my daughter saw a lady in the same restaurant who she recognized too. That lady it just so happens is also a very dear friend of mine from high school years too and she also just happens to be a cousin to my friend in Florida and my daughter knew that this lady was planning to come to the lunch tomorrow as well!

So daughter went over and sat down, had a nice long chat with her then. I was really happy to learn that she had recognized this friend and also, that the friend had recognized and remembered my daughter too!

Apparently in the course of their conversation today, they hit on some topics that struck a big chord with my daughter. I think they must have had to do with how things happen to us and though at the time, they seem like it is the end of the world or darned close to that. But, in hindsight, those things all -good, bad or indifferent -served some purpose that changed our lives. Often those changes were really rugged, very sad, extremely difficult to deal with but they did serve a purpose to make each of us that much stronger as we carried through the rest of our lives.

And this brought about my daughter and I talking then too about how hard it was back when she was 12-years-old and my mother died. My daughter, being her first grandchild, and one that she had raised too because she came to Maryland and lived with us, to care for my daughter so I could keep working there. Not an easy time those years because my Mom and I always had a pretty confrontational type of relationship -had that since I was probably about 12-13 years old as a matter of fact. So the loss of my Mom was one that was really difficult for my daughter to bear. On top of that, almost immediately, there came the dissolution of my marriage and for several years after that, a whole lot of rough times -contending with my ex-husband was not the easiest thing I've ever done!

At one point, when my son was about 11 years old, his Dad began trying to sweet-talk the boy. Telling him things that if the boy wanted to come live with him, he would get him all kinds of special things he knew that the boy really wanted. That created a whole 'nother set of problems for me with my son because what he really wanted, he knew couldn't come to pass at all. He REALLY wanted his Mom and Dad to live together again, for all of us to be together as one nice, big happy family. And for several weeks, the boy alternated almost daily in crying about what to do -live with Mom or go live with Dad.

I told my son then that if he wished, really felt it was in his best interests overall, to go live with his Dad, that I would agree to that provided before he made that decision that he agreed to going to see a counselor -a third party who could talk to him, be impartial in judgement and help the boy make a good decision from the choices before him -those being between a rock and a hard place.

The boy agreed to do that and I set up the necessary appointments with a counselor fairly close to home here. For the next six or seven months, he saw that counselor. Sometimes it was just my son and the counselor, other times I was present and on a few occasions, the sessions even included younger daughter, Mandy, too.

I remember, like it was yesterday -the day my son and I walked into the counselor's office and my son announced to both of us that he had made a decision regarding who he wanted to live with.

You talk about a sick feeling in your gut -that sinking sensation that you have just ingested ten pounds of concrete of the quick-setting variety -and that would have been me upon hearing him voice those words.

Immediately, I thought if he says his Dad, what am I going to do? After all, I had promised I would abide by his decision, regardless of what it was and how could I then possibly back out of that. I knew -oh how well I knew -that if he did choose to live with his Dad, it would be horrendous over the long haul for the boy. They did have many things in common, sure -love of cars, anything automotive heading that list. But there were also other complexities about this boy that his Dad didn't know about and that I knew too he would never understand either. The boy is you see, very artistically inclined -very, very good a many different types of art - and I knew his Dad would never comprehend how talented the boy was much less how much enjoyment the boy got from those talents too. That, plus the fact the kid is much like his mother in the way he views many things -society, diversity, fairness, little thing like that and being around his Dad, I feared would bring changes to the boy that he might have to make but not want to do and set up the kid for even more upheaval.

As things turned out that day, my son announced that he had decided he wanted to stay with his mother -with me! Yay! Yay! Wave after wave of relief washed over me immediately. I cried. Yes indeed I did!

Then the counselor asked my son what had brought him to this decision. And the boy told him how from one thing to another he had determined that what his dad was telling him he would do, was in essence, blowing smoke and that his Dad was trying to buy him with promises of a new really great bicycle, also and ATV and then, eventually they would build a car together for him -all that! All things I knew the boy had dreams of owning -most likely every night too!

A few years back, my son and I were having one of our discussion about all kinds of stuff and that time in our lives came to his mind.

He told me then "You know Mom, much as I really did want all those things Dad was promising he'd get me, I don't regret, not once, making the choice I did -to continue to live with you, even though it was in poverty!"

Now logic like that - well, you just have to love it don't you?

And I have never regretted that he made that decision since then either -even though much of life as we knew it, (still is come to think of it) was pretty much poverty-laden.

But that too is subjective isn't it, as there are many different kinds of poverty - financial really being the last one we should worry about.

1 comment:

Vic Grace said...

That must have made you feel great that your son chose you over all the things his dad promised. I expect he turned out a much better person for it.