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I saw the musical “Showboat” many, many moons ago, and as is typical of me, I instantly ran out and bought the soundtrack the next day. I have that soundtrack on my ragged Ipod, and I listen to it daily. I’m listening to it now. One song is called “Can’t Help Loving That Man of Mine“. Look....I’m not even going down that road. BUT a portion of the lyrics speak to me...“Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly“...it seems to say that we all do what we gotta do. I understand and embrace that concept.
I recently spent three hours driving to the Omaha airport with my sister Deidra and my niece Maddison, so that Deidra could catch a flight back to her home in Utah. It’s still hard for me to accept that any place she calls home is so far away from me. Again, fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. The drive passed quickly. Maddison read a book for the first hour, while Deidra and I de-briefed about her visit. We talked about the controversial Pork and Chicken Night at the Coffee Cup Cafe, and laughed about the wild game of Uno Attack that took place at our parents dining room table. Soon, Madds joined us in discussing the merits of a hospital bed that would allow patients to “do their duty” while seated in bed, but without a bedpan. Due to pending patents, I cannot reveal further details, but let me say that intricate diagrams were created.
Maddison and I bid farewell to Deidra at the curb, and shared a few moments of silence as we left the airport. And during the next three hours as we ate up the miles between Epperly Airfield and Sully, Iowa, we talked. We laughed. We even shed a few tears. And I was reminded, as I have been so many times over the years, that I am an incredibly lucky woman.
Yes, I have men in my life who will always be dear to my heart. My brother-in-law Kendall, who has been a part of our family for what seems like forever (or even longer, in his estimation.) My brother-in-law Jeff, who sung the first lullabies my kids had ever heard. My Dad, who spent a lifetime in a cloud of hairspray and lipgloss and snagged nylons, to emerge on the other side as my hero. My brown-eyed son Roan, the one who hugs me at the most unexpected moment, who called me from Utah dripping in homesickness, the one who has wanted nothing more than to sit beside me and hold my hand since he was a baby. I want them to receive the credit they deserve. But today the women in my life are on my heart and my mind.
I have three sisters who make me laugh wildly, and who hold me when I cry. I have a mother who may not always approve of what I do, but who has steadfastly remained in my corner. I have two nieces who are wise beyond their years. They amaze and astound me on a daily basis. And yes, I have two daughters. They are separated by six years and sixteen pounds. They inspire me, they challenge me, they exhaust me. I look into their big blue eyes, and I know. I know they are a gift from God. I know that my heart has reason to smile. I know that I will do everything in my power to help them find the confidence, the kindness, the moxie to do what they gotta do. Fish, birds....they will rule both. And then some.
I told Maddison that I believe that I met and married a monster for three reasons:
1. I was meant to be a mother to Penelope. And that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.
2. Although I wish it weren’t mine to bear, I was the only person who was going to fight and fight and fight until he was backed down, if not defeated. Two other wives and countless girlfriends had escaped and decided it was too risky. I escaped and decided he had to be stopped. And clearly, I was the one who had to stop him.
3. I will take what happened to me and I will use it to help other women. I will someday look other victims in the eye and I will say, “I am living proof that there is life on the other side. I will help you find it.”
Last week I arranged a meeting at the eye doctor for my Posey. She needed to pick out her first eyeglasses, and I wanted her to walk into the fray with resources aplenty. We stormed the clinic - Posey, my Mom, Sister Deidra and Niece Maddison (and yes, Roan, with a frog in his pocket.) Posey picked out the frames that she felt were best for her. And I wrote a check, and while I silently prayed that it wouldn’t bounce, I silently thanked the forces of the universe that allowed me and my daughters our grace and good fortune. It must be somethin’ that the angels done planned.