Born in a small town in the summer of 1956, I grew up with 5 siblings. My four older siblings were “half” siblings but I didn’t really know that until I was about 13 years old when I realized that they had a different last name than I did. My father was their father for all of my life and most of their lives as well. I grew up relatively happy and healthy. I watched my siblings get married and move out leaving only my younger brother and myself at home. My younger brother and I had a volatile relationship until I got married in May of 1978 at which time I grew up and so did he; we became the best of friends.
My husband embraced my family eagerly from the moment he met me. I used to tease him that the only reason he married me was to be a part of my family. His family was not as close as my family appeared to be and he enthusiastically enjoyed how we interacted with each other. We would often invite his family to join mine at various holidays and such, but after a few holidays with my family, his family didn’t really want to come anymore. I didn’t take that personally because I know my family can be very overwhelming. Ultimately his family moved away and we would visit them on vacations and that seemed to work out well.
In November of 1979, our oldest daughter was born. I remember vividly crying my eyes out when I found out I was pregnant because my life was planned out for the next five years and it didn’t include children. My tears of sadness turned to tears of joy as I felt her growing inside of me and I became more and more excited as I anticipated her birth. Our second daughter was born in July of 1983. Once again I cried with sadness with the knowledge I was pregnant. I thought one child was plenty and I was so unsure that my heart had room to love yet another child and to love that child as much as I loved the first child. As the initial shock of my pregnancy grew dim, I eagerly anticipated the birth of our second child. From the first moment I saw her I knew I could love her as much as I loved my first daughter.
In the years that flew by too quickly, I graduated nursing school, watched both of my daughters graduate from high school and I watched my mother die. It was in the years preceding my mother’s death that I began to feel the split in my family; when she died the division was complete. I no longer had 5 siblings; I had one. This arrangement was not by my choice but it was clearly stated in unspoken words. The contact I have with my older siblings is the same as one I would have if I met someone on the street I once knew from long ago. Via Facebook, I get to meet my niece and nephew’s children I will probably never know. It saddens me and I wish things were different but they are not. Wounds don’t hurt as badly as long as the scab remains; it’s when you pick the scab off that the wound hurts again. I’ll leave my scabs on.
Time marches on and I’ve watched my oldest daughter graduate from medical school and my youngest daughter graduate from massotherapy school. It isn’t their accomplishments in life that make me proud of them, it’s the young women they have become. Both my daughters have a compassionate heart that is so rare in people. I have watched them grow from being giddy girls to young women who have so much to offer life. These two are my greatest accomplishment.
As time moves on, our bodies get older despite how young our minds feel. In the year 2001, I had a heart attack that gave me my first wake up call to life. I was 45 years old which was too young for me to have health issues. Things had to change. I had to slow down; but I didn’t. I kept on doing what I was doing thinking that I’d change in a couple of years. In a couple of years I did change; not by choice but by circumstance. I had a second heart attack at age 49 and open heart surgery making me a full-fledged member of the zipper club in 2005.
In 2010, I retired from my job as a Registered Nurse in the emergency department. My decision to retire was born more from need than desire. It is a role I miss. It is a role I will probably always miss. For so long being a nurse defined me. I had to find other definitions of myself.
These are some of the things that have molded me into who I am. I am still learning, growing and being molded.