Isn't it Ironic... Dontcha Think?
There are times that people are placed in your life at that exact moment for a purpose and most times in the most ironic way. The thing about sharing the completely ironic situation that I found myself in - is that it comes with a tinge of sadness. One of those times you just sit back and see how everything comes full circle.
This week, our family welcomed a special visitor - Grandma Karen. She is an absolutely stunning woman that doesn’t look a day over 40 but has knowledge and wisdom beyond her years. She is a beautiful warrior woman inside and out, that stands a strong 5’2” (almost), but wouldn’t hesitate to stand up and tell off a fully grown man if they deserved it. She immediately comes in and gets on the floor to open her “treasure chest” full of goodies for us. Wonderful things like masks for the kids, jam, a dollar folded like a peacock and a beautiful book of Wise Women by Joyce Tenneson.
Every time she speaks she is teaching us something new - like that you can eat the inside of the broccoli stem (who the hell knew that?! ps it tastes GOOD). She is a tough cookie though that worked her way up from slinging mailbags to senior management positions in the USPS. She is so eloquent, a woman that can ballroom dance and drink whiskey. The ironic part about Karen being a part of our lives is that she is the widow of my father. I used to call him my biological father so as to not give him even the credit of having a father title because he walked out of my life when I was 5.
We had contact again when I was 16, shortly after he married Karen at her prodding (his former wife did NOT like children). At that time, I had brewed in a toxic teenage angst of anger, resentment, hurt, hate and all sorts of other teenage girl emotions, so I don’t think he was quite ready for the response. However, we tried to rebuild a relationship and I even visited him and Karen in their home in Washington. She taught me how to quilt and I used that to do a final project in order to graduate high school.
However, I hadn’t forgotten the years of pain and resentment that I held for my father and I wanted him to pay. Not pay in a money way, but in a I want to make-you-pay-emotionally-for-everything-you-put-me-through angry teenage girl way. The relationship deteriorated severely with neither one of us knowing how to communicate our feelings properly to the other person. I remember one of the last things I said to him while screaming at him on the phone was “You’ll have grandkids one day that you know nothing about”. And just like that, I cut him out of my life like he had done to me so many years ago and moved on.
Then, as you know - life hands you battles. Years had passed and for some reason he had been on my mind during a hot Arizona summer. Playing in my head what I would say if he ever called me again - still so angry and confused. A few days later, my mom called me to tell me she heard my father had passed away. I didn’t know how to react or what to say - I just mumbled something like “Ok - whatever. I don’t care” and hung up.
Within the next few days, I had such an internal battle that I decided I had to reach out to Karen after seeing an online obituary. She offered to fly me out to come for the memorial service and for some reason I knew in my heart that I had to go. I knew her from years ago and couldn’t believe her grace in a time of such tremendous loss for her. My time spent there with her was full of tears from both of us, talking about life and perspectives - and her motto “I don’t even know what I don’t know”.
I am so grateful to this women for her open arms and humanity during this time - she was completely heartbroken to have just lost the love of her life, but she still answered any question I had and made me feel ok. Like I wasn’t going to fall completely apart and like I didn’t have to carry around this anger or guilt anymore. I am continually healing from this past battle, working through and dealing anger, guilt and sadness. Before I left, I asked her to be a part of my life and my family’s lives.
She is an incredible warrior woman that has been through so much in her life, but still had the grace to open her arms to me when she had every excuse not to. We have since built such a positive relationship and have become each other’s biggest cheerleaders for our endeavors/passions.
Karen happens to be the absolute best PR person - traveling around sharing my story with other incredible warrior women to help inspire them. She retired after over 30 years with the USPS and after losing the love of her life - she had the courage to start over. She is now following her passion and gift of singing and I couldn’t be more proud. She will tell you that she is inspired by me and what I’m doing, but the truth is that she inspires me everyday.
So, as she was on the floor talking to the kids and helping them put their masks on, I was filled with gratitude and honor that she in our lives. The irony of the situation didn’t hit me until later that night. The following day, we all went to watch her singing performance and her face lit up the entire time. While she was singing my son looked to me and said “she looks so happy” and my heart was so full of pride, love and joy. I am proud that she is a part of our warrior tribe for she is a true warrior woman.