Sometimes words aren’t enough but I am going to try. I do have a way with words. I know this, but when you’re discussing something so intensely personal and real, it can become hard to put the right words where you want them.
I call this post …and then she waited. It is a long post, something I don’t normally do. But to me this is the most important post I will ever write, So for those of you who have enjoyed some of my other posts I would ask of you as a favor to take the time to read this all the way through – The message I share is for all families out there. Thank you!
This is a post about my daughter Christina! The mother of Jordan, Jack, and Emma (my beloved grandchildren) whom many of you have already met in my other posts! This is a post of several things. Love lost, hardship endured and overcoming adversity against all odds!
This story begins 2 ½ years ago. Christina came down with H1N1 (with severe added complications) and almost died, several times. It was a slow and agonizing recovery – complicated by previous and ongoing chronic pain which she doesn’t let interfere with her life.
Within a few months of recovery she was up and about, her and her husband were busy cleaning the house getting ready for their son Jack’s 10th Birthday celebration. Her husband, was called away mid-day to assist another and never returned. He was struck and killed in a vehicular accident, within an hour he was gone. While this is overwhelmingly sad in and of itself, this is actually where my story begins. After the H1N1, after this families loss.
Something happened to Duane’s (her deceased husband) parents. I don’t know if it was an accumulation of previous events in their life ending with the death of their only son, I just don’t know, but this highly Christian couple turned on both Christina and the children.
It was slow and insidious at first, but it kept creeping in, Innuendo’s to the children about what mom wasn’t doing for them. Being harsh when with them, both in deeds and actions. Two months after their father’s death telling these little ones to grow up, move on. On the night of his death (we didn’t know this till later) showing these 8 and 10 year old children a photograph that had been taken of their father’s body at the hospital to prove he was gone!
I was getting angry, but their mom, a gentle loving soul said to give his parents time. They were being inappropriate because they were grieving and so Christina’s personal grieving had to wait while she did damage control regarding the grandparent’s inappropriate comments and behavior.
She called in psychologists/counselors known to the grandparents, and then the pastor of her/their church for help. These people met and spoke with them several times. Duane’s parents became more bitter in response while cloaking their actions with loving words (“it’s for the best” they would say to others). After a particularly bad incident, the psychologists recommended the children not be allowed to spend time alone with their grandparents.
And so she waited, her own personal grief continuing to be held at bay while she protected and problem solved for her family. At Christmas, that first year without him, the neighborhood, other family and friends and her church were wonderful and amazing. So Christina went and visited them, Duane’s parents and asked for a coming together at this time of year. She came back and I could see she had been crying. Christina does not easily cry.
Their response: She was told they had monetary (their income is double my daughters) concerns and with Duane no longer there to help them, they would have to sell Christina’s house (A home to this family for 12 years that was supposed to have become theirs, the house payment that she had continued to faithfully make payments – on time – after Duane’s death, plus maintenance plus for the last several months she had been paying one of their credit card payments to ease the load – which she could not afford to do. An additional $500 per month!)
Because of work done on the house over the years by Duane and his dad, the value of the house had doubled. They, his parents had decided to sell the house from under this family for the increased equity value. When Christina mentioned the promise his parents had made to the two of them 12 years before when his parents had purchased this house (fixer/upper at that time) to help the young couple, she was told that the promise had been made to Duane not her.
And so again she waited to mourn and geared herself up to fight the battle of her life, saving her family’s home and those special memories so dear to them all. The cruelties to the children are hard to describe. I will name but a few: Them waking up one day to a FOR SALE sign on the lawn (no warning) of the only home the two youngest had ever known. Emma would sit by the sign and look up at it trying to understand and cry. Jack would kick the sign and they would both ask me why. The neighbors were angry and several times removed the sign only to have us ask them (the neighbors) to return the sign or there would be more problems.
It became my habit to take several showers a day. I could cry in the showers and the water cascading down my face would wipe away the traces of my tears so that my daughter and her children couldn’t see them. (In those previous few years I had not worked much, being there for my dad, caregiving my mother and finally my husband – all gone now, so I did not have the money needed to help.) The children had so many nightmares to cope with, as did my daughter. They were all waiting to grieve but the fear of what might happen to their home and those most precious memories of their dad were stronger.
It just kept continuing, this onslaught of insensitivity while Christina attempted to come up with either a legal recourse or the additional financing she needed to purchase the house as a single provider, the church helped as best it could, there just wasn’t enough available funds for what Duane’s parents were asking.
And Christina kept waiting to grieve while trying to come up with solutions. She asked them for time to raise the additional funds needed. She said if they worked together they could work it out. And she continued to faithfully make all payments on time and then came that fateful Sunday in April of this year when after the grandparents attended church they showed up and with official documents served eviction notices to not only her daughter-in-law but also THE CHILDREN. With a smile on her face she handed to each of them a sealed envelope that they took to be a treat.
No word of what was inside, just a sweet loving smile and said they’d see everyone later and they left. It was unbelievable when we saw the legal eviction notices folded up inside.
The unspeakable look on their mom’s face, (it was too late to stop the children from opening the envelopes with excitement) watching the children’s faces, change to confusion by what was inside. Yes, this is absolutely true. Christina did see an attorney regarding the legalities, and while the attorney was horrified and called upon several attorney friends, nothing Duane’s parents had done was illegal – cruel – but not illegal!
So bravely Christina told the children they would be moving. They asked why, she explained what the words on the paper addressed to them meant; they asked why would their grandparents do this? Not wanting to scar the children further, she said the grandparents had become confused since the loss of their son. Jack did say, “I don’t think Daddy would be very happy with them.” And then he too was quiet!
While Christina waited for her time to be able to grieve her private loss of her husband, she became very proactive – she met with Duane’s mother and told her what she thought (finally) of their actions in creative and colorful words that I didn’t even know she knew. She of such a loving, forgiving and gentle nature.
We began to pack and then just a few days before we would have moved, her brother who lives on the other end of the country and had not been fully versed with the activities happening here (his sister, Christina had kept silent about so much because she did not want to be a bother) called her and said: “We (His wife and himself) can’t let Duane’s parents do this to you. Her brother Nick and her sister-in-law, Julie reached out and made the needed financial difference.
As of the beginning of June my daughter owns her own home. She had protected her family and kept the home she and Duane built, not the house but those oh so precious memories and finally she and they could begin to heal in safety.
Finally no more waiting for any of them. The confusion still remains to the youngest as they try to understand what happened to the grandparents, Duane’s parents, whom they still love. Luckily for all in this house, the grandparents will have moved to another state by September 1st, and as for my beautiful incredible amazing daughter Christina…
Well…She discovered blogging. And she discovered all of you. Prior to starting her blog she had never written a poem in her entire life, but if you go there to her blog you will see for yourself a blossoming person who is finally releasing long held emotions and healing from the inside out.
Thank you for greeting her so lovingly, for making her feel cared for, loved and accepted. Just the other day she wrote a post called “You Said…” about her enduring love for Duane. Every word she writes is true and the response from her fellow bloggers was/is amazing. reconstructingchristina
I was sitting nearby and watched. She stared at the computer for the longest time. I watched her repeatedly cry (she who doesn’t show emotions) as she read all the lovely responses she was receiving from each of you.
Speaking personally here as her mother to all of your love and support… I-CANNOT-THANK-YOU-ENOUGH…So if anyone should ask me what I feel about blogging and bloggers this should clarify that. Christina is my daughter and Nick is my son, his wife Julie my wonderful daughter-in-law. I have 5 beautiful grandchildren between them and I am the luckiest person I know because now I also have all of you, my fellow bloggers. I am greatly blessed.
Thank you for reading this chapter of mine and my family’s life. Please take the time right now to hug your partner in life, your parents, your sons and your daughters, your grandsons, your granddaughters. All that you hold most dear and take for granted can be gone or change in a heartbeat.
Penny L. Howe, August 10th 2012