…and then she waited.

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

89 thoughts on “…and then she waited.

  1. Pingback: Emma, Jack, smiles and a thank you! | TheWhyAboutThis

  2. Penny, I just visited your daughter’s blog and left a comment. What a tragedy, but most of all, how horrendous of his parents. They have no idea what damage they have done to the children. It is persons of this nature that I truly do NOT understand. Blessings to you Penny, Christina and your grandchildren. Christina will survive and move on to be an even better person but the others…their day will come, maybe not on this earth, but it will come.

    • thank you so much Sharla, As this whole agonizing thing came down starting a little over 2 1/2 years ago while I watched the doctors struggle to save her life in the hospital, to her almost recovery (she was on disability for awhile) to his death to his parents insanity I kept thinking this isn’t happening, this can’t be happening, and feeling so intensely helpless except to be here for her and the children -well I did tell Duanes parents off a few times – I think they’re afraid of me (good actually)! They moved to another state one week ago. (praise the lord, yes I mean those words!) and the children, while confused, by them, are surrounded by lots of unconditional love and Christina is is just amazing isn’t she. Her sweetness that you sense in her blog is real, the words she writes, deeply felt and everyone here is moving forward in a strong, healthy and happy mode – finally! Again my most sincere thanks for your thoughtful and caring words, Penny

    • Please feel free to camp here anytime Russel, love having you here to visit. You are a very good camper. 🙂 I am feeling the need to visit you, hopefully I will be as good a camper as you have been. Thanks, Penny

  3. Ow Penny, this is a truly amazing and lovely post with touching and harrowing details. I never realised that the family you were helping out was your own. I thought you were just a family friend. What a beautiful person your daugter is. Her ability to forgive is astounding. You are blessed to have such a loving family. As for the in-laws, I was only surprised that this could happen in the west. In Ghana in laws behaving that way and ejecting daughters-in-law/widows from their matrimonial homes is not uncommon. In-laws accuse the wives of kiling the sons/husbands through spiritual means (witchcraft) and then go ahead and kick them out after the funeral. Thank God, Christina and her children got to keep their home. I will check her blog out. Thank you for sharing this amazing story.

    • Oh Celestine, I am so sorry for what appears to be common place in Ghana. Dang (I wanted to say D*mn!) because that’s how I feel about this, but will settle for Dang! I have never understood or “got” cruelty to another person. Not as a child, not as an adult. The why of it leaves me breathless. Thank you for your warm and caring thoughts. Yes we are fighters here in this house, I think God had been preparing me all my life for this battle, to shore her up on her down days to be there as I could for by grandbabies. Christina has one beautiful soul and finally she is healing and re-emerging, long past time, but a very good thing none-the-less. Bless you so much my friend, Penny.

  4. Penny, I have been away and then tied up for quite a few days now. Just catching up and now in tears at the vileness of some people.
    I had not realised that the beautiful wonderful Christina is your daughter.
    No wonder you are so proud of her, you don’t need an outsider to tell how absolutely immense she is.
    I love what she says and how she says it, her courage and love and human dignity shine through daily.
    I offer these words from Scotland’s Bard Robert Burns as a tribute to her love for Duane:

    Till a’ the seas gang dry, my Dear,
    And the rocks melt wi’ the sun
    O I will luve thee still, my Dear,
    While the sands o’ life shall run

    My heart is with both of you today.
    Brian

    • Thank you Brian. For sincerely caring. Yes Christina is all those things and more, I do love her so. Get ready for her quick wit and cleverness, parts that have been missing for awhile are starting to emerge, an excellent thing! Thank you again so very much, I read her the bards words, and yes we cried, because you do when you’re moved by emotions. Thank you again so very much for being there for her! Much hugs and love from afar, a friend, Penny – Oh, I guess people will figure out my age now, huh!:)

  5. Thank you Penny. I have been following Christina’s blog and am so pleased to have found you. As a mother and grandmother I feel for you. We all want so much for our families and to have to sit and watch as a daughter has to endure such an agonising experience is almost beyond imagining. Christina obviously comes from strong stock, she will survive 🙂

    • Thank you Pam for your loving words. It was without a doubt the worst thing I have ever lived through. (And I’ve had a few interesting experiences in my life!) I guess I was being ramped up early on so I would be prepared to be here for her and her children when the time came. All I know for certain is we’re in a very good place now and wonderfully moving on! Thanks again for coming to visit, I appreciate it very much, Penny

  6. Hi Penny,
    I’ve obviously seen you on Christinas blog, but never got round to having a look over here.. I’m so glad I have now.
    Thank you for sharing Christinas story , She has hinted at hard times and some unbelievable behaviour by Duane’s parents, but obviously not gone in to too much detail, and I can understand why now.

    Grief is a strange emotion. For some it makes them stronger, others it eats away like a worm inside an rotten apple, festering away inside.
    However that is no excuse for their behaviour. Reading about the eviction notices and the smiles on their faces as they handed them to your children made my blood boil.. how disgracfully disgustingly cruel can they be?
    These are their grandchildren….
    I’m not surprised you’ve had a few run ins with them, well done, they deserve every harsh word.

    There was something about Christinas post ” You said ” that really hit home with me, and I still don’t know what it is, the pictures, the words, the love and sentiment expressed in them from both Duane and Christina,knowing about her loss… something really hit a chord, and I think it is one of the best blogs I’ve ever read.

    You have some brilliant pictures of your family on here Penny, some very poignant too with Duane in them. He looks to be a kind loving father and a gentleman.
    I think your grandson Jack got it truly right when he said ” I don’t think Daddy would be very happy with them.” .. I don’t think he would have been happy at all 😦

    Thank you again for sharing this, and also thank you raising Christina to be the wonderful person she is, you’ve done a fine job 🙂
    keep safe, keep well
    love n hugs
    xxx

  7. ???!!!! I was gonna say that first picture looks REALLY familiar, I didn’t know you were Christina’s mother. I’ve been faithfully following her blog since last week 🙂
    Can’t believe why loving grandparents can turn on a dime like that, although I do hear similar stories among spouses over death of a child. Christina mentioned some incident over her inlaws, but I didn’t realize it was this bad. She is amazingly brave for holding back her personal grief for sake of her children. Goes to show there is no limit to GOOD mother’s love for her children.
    I’m so agonized over the big battle over her house. ” she was told that the promise had been made to Duane not her.” That is absolutely gut wrenching 😦
    Thank God you raised your children right! not many brothers would have done what he did for Chrisina.
    This story really hits home with me because I was involved in purchasing a home that was a direct result of seller’s husband’s fatal car crash 😦 It was a fixer upper that was abandoned as a result. It was the worst home purchase experience of my life. I don’t want to go over what the mood was like during the closing, but you can imagine it was really quiet with lots of tears…
    I am so thankful Christina did not lose the house, you have no idea…

    • Thank you Chris. She is one special lady. to see her blossoming on her blog site is just incredible. It was bad, reallllllly bad after he died which was horrific itself. I barely touched the surface. Felt the need to! She’s in a really good place now and is finally in a moving on mode! Thank you for your words Chris, I appreciate them very much, Penny

  8. What an amazing story. I’m really happy for you both that you had each other and the rest of your family to support you. Friends and family can be amazing sources of strength when they are needed, I’m glad you had that sort of love around you when you needed it. Your blog is one of the most humorous and inspirational I’ve found and it is wonderful that blogging has helped you and Christina through the horrible times you’ve had. I pray for all of you, that you can move on properly with your lives and put this awful time behind you. x

    • Thank you Martha, for your kind, caring and loving words. The blogging community is the most supporting group of people I have ever encountered in my life. It is a huge balm, on all levels for many reasons. We are all healing (most especially Christina and the children) in a good way! Thank you warmly for your prayers, blessing to you from My and Christina’s heart to you and your family! God keep you safe, Penny

  9. Very powerful story and what a tragedy to have things turn out the way they did. I always hold out hope for the “wicked” and maybe one day they’ll understand what they did was wrong and work to seek forgiveness. But even if that doesn’t happen, you and your family will always have one another.

    • Thank you so much. It is a funny thing, life. I could never have imagined anything like this being possible in this family. And yet it did. Duane’s parents are not okay. That is to say the psychologists think that emotionally they have become quite unstable. Our main goal has always been to protect the children. That’s the tough one. If we as adults can’t comprehend what happened just imagine what an innocent child feels. And yes, happily my family are sane and loving. The children are sleeping better at night now, and it is a delight to finally hear unrestrained laughter from the two of them, the eldest 18 year old Jordan will probably never forgive her fathers parents and I am saddened by the lost on both sides. There are some things in life you can’t change. But she is doing so very well now herself and as you can see Christina is beginning to emerge as a blossoming writer. She’s more surprised at her talent than anyone. I love it. Yes the family will always have each other, and now we have all our new friends in blogging land. Thank you for your caring and loving words. I appreciate them so very much, warmth and hugs to you this Sunday, Penny

  10. Penny, I hardly know where to start -you and Christina are such amazingly strong people and my heart goes out to you for all that you have been through – and come out the other side even stronger.
    Do you know Maya Angelou’s poem ‘and still I rise’ ? I thought of it as I read this very moving and beautifully written piece.
    This blogging community to which we belong is such a blessing. Thank you all for being out there 🙂

    • I agree with you about the blogging community. My love of blogging but most especially the people in here keeps growing exponentially with each passing day. I’m generally a pretty private person about very personal matters. But as time passed and I received such warmth and affection from other bloggers I felt a compelling need to share this story. For my daughter and myself after Duane’s death we had no idea what was to come. How do you prepare for something like this. Every day turned into a challenge (I left a lot of events out of the story). I feel like our reward for hanging on (because that’s really what we did many days, just hang on!)was discovering blogging and wonderful people like you. I know Christina feels the same way. We LOVE the blogging community and the warm, caring and real people, just like you! Thank you so much for reading and caring. Many, many hugs to you dear friend, Penny

  11. Penny,
    What a powerful story. It makes me think about my life and how lucky I am. The strength and courage your family put forth when going through those nightmares is amazing! (I had no idea you and Christina were related! :D)

    • Thank you Tina. It is still so hard to take in, on occasion. Like some horrible nightmare you can’t wake up from. Christina and I started the blogging on a whim, each in our own manner. As some time went by and we found such great friends online I simple felt the need to share this story. I guess you never know how strong you can be until adversity comes at you. Christina and I are wonderfully related as family and as best friends. Thank you again for your very warm and caring thoughts Tina, Lots of hugs! 🙂

  12. Penny ~ first, Oh my! Oh my! Oh my! ~ I had no idea you were Christina’s Mom. I read your sweet note on my ‘sun-climbers’ page but could not get to my laptop to respond… Then while hubby was cooking I had a few moments so came up and read your post for today… and cried so many tears.

    I did know you were a supportive loving figures in dear Christina’s life – but assumed maybe a cousin or distant relative or friend — never ever thought about a mom/daughter relationship. This just really hit me hard. I guess I felt so connected to both of you … first not knowing you even knew one another – then putting the pieces together that the children you were lovingly featuring on your blog were Christina’s ~ (btw, that came to me when I noticed in your narrative and hers especially the mention of not only the traumatic passing of their father, but also that Christina suffered with H1N1 right prior etc… that was my ‘lightbulb’ moment). In any case, your sensitive account here today of all that took place in Christina’s world during these last few years just really made everything come together, and in such an amazing (though painful at times) way. I am just so thrilled that you are Christina’s mom ~ and that both you have together triumphed over the sad history following Duane’s passing. That the children have such amazing women in their lives now…role models that they need so very much after all they have been exposed to. Also that both you and Christina have found healing in the blogging work …. joy and friendship too.

    Just very choked up over all of this… Blessings dear Penny ~ and Christina too…. This post was a surprise and I’m so glad you shared your heart here. Feel very close to the whole family now 🙂 Love and Hugs ~ Blessings Always, Robyn

    • Thank you so much Robyn,Yes, that is me “mom”. I am blessed with having a wonderful son and daughter who have been there for me and each other. If you’re adding up the years, Yes I am as many years old as I’d have to be. My son will be 45 on Monday. I have never looked my age never. I was carded when I was 42 for goodness sake. The photo’s of me I take myself every few days. Nothing cosmetic, just me. When people ask me how I manage to stay looking and acting so young I just tell them I’ve had an easy life. 🙂 Seriously I am surprised that the last few years of my life haven’t affected my health or my physical appearance more. I think I’ve cried a million tears! And felt anger and pain and helplessness. I am so very happy that this family, my family is now fully capable of moving forward and healing. The children are sleeping so well now, most of the time and Christina as you have been seeing for yourself is just blossoming! The blogging world is a very good thing! Oh, and I think you are especially wonderful, and amazing! All my love to you and your family today – cherish them especially. That’s what life is all about! Huge hugs for you my most special friend! and again thank you, Penny

  13. Christina is bravery and courageous. I remember the story that you posted a couple months ago, but had no clue she was your daughter. I can’t image how much you had to go through as a mother… It takes more than courage to put your personal story in word.

    • Thank you Amy, yes she is all those things and lest I forget she is also an amazingly loving and caring daughter. In the past 5 years, not counting these last few, I have lost my mother, my father and my husband, her beloved step-father. She has always been there for me. Always. I am very lucky with respect to both my daughter and my son. They are amazingly loving and caring and strongly independent adults. I love them with all my heart and soul. I am blessed with the two of them by my side. Thank you for your wonderful caring words. This was a story I have felt compelled to share, a little at a time. It’s funny though that in the telling of the story I feel safer here surrounded by my blogging friends than I ever would have out there in the world of “reality”. Many thoughts of love being sent your way, pass on to your family from myself and Christina. xoxo, Penny

      • Have gone through all in just 5 years, you still can send kind and loving words to us…
        Thank God! You are surrounded by your daughter, son, daughter-in-law, grandkids. Christina is an amazing young woman. I’ll visit her blog later…

  14. How beautiful that you and your daughter have remained focused on loving the dear children! I have been following both your blog and Christina’s blog and had absolutely no idea you were related… Although I was curious about who the mom was of those lovely children ( your grandkids) you have posted pictures of. It is so sad, cruel and unbelievable what Duane’s parents have done.

    I have a girlfriend who has had a spouse turn on her in a very abusive way and wisely she has separated. But, although the cruelty continues, she has not become bitter. People like you, Christina and my friend really amaze me. Better not bitter. So awesomely glad your daughter and grandchildren could keep their home. Bunches of blessings to all five of you!

    ~ Wendy (PS – thanks again for the elegant I blog/I belong badge. I posted it on my about page a few days ago.)

    • Okay, I’ve decided it is harder to answer the warm, loving, generous and caring comments I’ve been receiving from all the wonderful bloggers out there. Thank you so very much Wendy for your loving comments, I appreciate you and them so much on behalf of myself, my daughter, and our family. Huge blessings back to you and yours. Thank you for posting the I Belong badge, it’s how I feel, happy to know others feel that way too! 🙂

  15. My heart dropped reading this post. So many things if I could wish differently that I would. Thank God for the love that does exist that helped keep things as together as possible. I will now go visit your daughter’s blog & follow it too. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree & I love your tree 😉
    xoxo

    • Well Rosy life seems to have this habit of going it’s own way doesn’t it. Thank you so very much for your loving and caring words. Love is the ultimate healer of all things, I think. Christina has endured so much, and now finally she get’s to heal and move on. Very creatively I believe. I always knew she had talent, she however remains surprised with her gift of words. I am very proud of her for so many reasons. Again so many thanks my friend for your wonderful words. 🙂

  16. I’m so glad you’ve told this story, Penny! And so thankful you’ve been there with Christina this whole time. I told Christina, we all thought God brought you here for *Duane* when Christina was so ill, but in truth, He brought you here early because He knew how badly Christina would need you. What amazing love and care. You’ve allowed God to set you as a hedge of protection around the family, you’ve been a constant and unfailing pillar of strength. I’m inspired to be that kind of mother as well.

    So thankful for you!

    Dellaina

    • Hi Dellaina, much much love to you and your family. As you know this is a story that needed to be told, I had suppressed so many emotions in the past few years to be there for Christina and her and Duanes children. It was so very painfully hard, you’re a mother you can imagine what I’m talking of. It’s funny but Christina and I have talked about Duane going to get me and wondering if he somehow “knew” himself of future events and wanted me nearby. I loved and adored him, like another son to me. We had a great mutual friendship. One I treasured and miss. And yup I most definitely am a Mommy Bear where my family is concerned. And yes Christina does get that from me! 🙂 I will continue to help and love as I can and finally know this family gets to be at peace and heal! (even though it was delayed by a couple of years) Like you I am fiercely proud of Christina and her accomplishments. No surprise to me that she can write and write beautifully, it is a surprise to her though. We always see ourselves in a critical way don’t we? Oh one more thing Dellaina and I’d like to be perfect clear on this! You are that kind of mother, absolutely, unequivocally, completely, without a shadow of a doubt and so forth and so on. I do know a very good mother when I see one! Once again, many blessing and love to you and your family this day, I thank you personally for your wonderful friendship with my daughter and all that you have helped her with, Yes I’m a mommy I know these things. You also make a difference to many. Thanks for the positive ones you continue to make as a friend for Christina. With all my love, Penny

  17. I too am completely speechless and am sending out a virtual hug to you and your entire family. No one can completely understand another’s motives and everyone grieves differently as we know. The way your family handled this adversity, from the loss of their father, husband, son-in-law, is an amazing story of faith and courage. You are all a gift to us on how to live an inspiring life. I’m sure Duane is smiling down upon all of you, and is so proud.

    • Thank you for the virtual hug LuAnn it made it here, travelling straight from your heart to ours. I love my family so I was and am where I need and want to be. The courage my daughter has shown is a daily inspiration to me as I do my best to watch her backside while she learns and grows in how to be a single parent where before it was always a shared responsibility and partnership! Yes I believe Duane is smiling down on us, he came and got me you know, when Christina fell ill and I needed to be here. I watched her heal from the illness and enjoyed their interactive love with one another as she physically became stronger. Duane was one of my best friends, we had a sort of mutual admiration of each other going on. Both Christina and I wonder now if somehow he knew that he had a prescience of coming events and wanted me nearby for his beloved family. On the day of his death he arose early (always did) and wrote very inspirational words on a white board by the phone, another thing he did every day. We’ve never erased the words, they’re still there for all to see. What he wrote was…We are where we need to be and learning what we need to learn. Stay the course because the things we learn today will lead us to where God needs us to be tomorrow. The last words he wrote will live on in this house forever. Thank you for your loving and kind words and thoughts. I appreciate you and them very much! sending much love your way!

    • Thank you Benja, yes many emotions here too. I appreciate you very much. Your wonderful caring and loving words of support I feel deeply. I am sending back many hugs from me and my family to you, with much affection, Penny

  18. When it rains it pours! And the choice is do you get wet and drenched to the skin, or do you pick up an umbrella. Grabbing the umbrella you ride through the continual onslaught of the storm and through love the sun emerges from behind the clouds and dries the world, leaving the air and the world renewed. This was an incredible journey for you all. Hugs to Christina and the kids, and to you too Penny for writing this piece!

    • Thank you so much. Excellent wisdom in your words. And very true. In the end even through adversity each one of us has a choice in how we choose to deal with same. I simply chose to be here, making a difference and doing whatever I could to help my family. Christina chose to fight, and fight she did. I felt this was a compelling story (for obvious reasons) and I personally felt the need to share. Thank you for your loving thoughts and great big hugs right back at you and yours. I am feeling so much love from so many who’ve responded, that my glass half-full (which I was sure was gone for awhile) is now overflowing. You have brought a smile of joy to my face this morning, I thank you again, Penny 🙂

    • Like you I’ve always been one to find solace in books (I read a lot in the last two years during the nights I couldn’t sleep, many!) But I felt this was a story that needed to be shared for all the reasons that I have already mentioned. Yes, emotional, yes amazingly harshly true (and I left a lot out) If this changes just one life in a positive way I will be well served. We are all doing well now, all the members of this family are healing and moving forward. Thank you for your words of kindness and being a true friend, many many hugs back, Penny

  19. This will sound like a cliche – Out of every darkness shines a light. In this case there are five bright lights guided by one or two very strong sources.
    This story broke my broken heart as time and again I hear of pain inflicted needlessly in the name of money and cruelty. I wonder how it can feel anything close to satisfying.
    Thank goodness for my belief in Karma or I would be spewing the unspeakable right this minute.

    • Thanks so much Lesley, I may be in trouble in the Karma area myself. I did have a few “confrontations” with those who stole special moments of time and healing from those I love most. I’m pretty sure Duane’s parents are more than a little intimidated by me. Okay so make that a lot intimidated by me. But it was Christina who took the stance, who chose to stay and fight (I just wanted to grab them all up and leave this place when the abuse first began.). But Christina said no to me, the time was not right that this was their home and she would fight until she could fight no longer before they would move. She won. Thanks to her never giving in or up and her wonderful amazing brother (who I might add is as proud of her as I – Like me he wanted to wrap them all up and move them back east to where he and his sweet loving wife and my other amazing grandkids could protect them while they healed) – She said no to him too!, she won and now she and her children are moving on. Again thank you so much for caring, really caring, I am so appreciative of your support, warm warm wishes and hugs to you this day, my friend :), Penny

    • Thank you.Yes there was a very satisfactory conclusion, and I greatly admire Christina and her bravery on so many fronts. I am excited by what I see happening to her and the family now. Where they are headed is a wonderful place, their memories of Duane are locked and secure and can come out in safety now while they embrace and explore this brave new world. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts I am most sincerely appreciative, Penny

  20. this was an amazing post – I am speechless and both sad and happy–happy that it is finally partially over–sad that people could be so cruel
    will have to check out your daughter’s blog too — wishing you all the best in what was a terrible situation

    • Thank you with all my heart. It was so hard to put these past few years into words. I who would much rather inspire and encourage but this was a story I felt I had to write mostly for my daughter but also for myself. I have discovered us bloggers to be an unusually caring, loving and supportive group of people. I felt safe in sharing with all of you this oh so personal story. I left much out, there was so much, I will share that I “lost it” a few times with the Grandparents and they felt the considerable wrath I was feeling for something (not mentioned in the story) that they did to Christina and the children. I think they may be a little bit afraid and intimidated by me now. A good thing from my reference point. We are moving on in a happy way, very few nightmares in this past month, giggles and laughter from the younger ones, their older sister finally renewing her plans for the future, and Christina finally gets to heal, blogging has become a catharsis for her. She is still surprised at herself for the writing talent that to me is clearly displayed in the first few writings of her entire life. Thank you for your thoughtful words and warm wishes, special thanks and hugs to you for caring, Penny xoxo

      • oh the things that happen to us through no fault of our own–I am glad they are afraid of you—they took their sorrow and spread it in such a way as to cause such havoc–I am glad you all seem to be on the other side of it now
        I have gone through something – though not as devastating, as exhausting, and am hoping to come out the other side–you have shown me that there is hope
        hugs to all–and I am glad you stood up to these people

  21. Oh, my, Penny, what a story. Christina is amazing… I put myself in her shoes as I read, and I doubt if I would have had the courage to do all that she did. Thank you for sharing her story and introducing us to her blog. I’m on my way there, now! 🙂
    Kathy

    • Thank you Kathy, yes she is amazing. To be recovering from illness, to lose the love of her life, her childrens father and then deal with these past few years I am so very very proud of her. She is only now discovering her writing talent. As it emerges it is a wonderful thing to behold. I thank all those supportive and caring bloggers for being there for her and I thank you so much for your kind and caring thoughts of love, a most special thanks to you, hugs your way today and share them with all your family!:)

  22. a poignant story, penny. i wasn’t aware that you and christina are related. it takes extraordinary courage to get through adversity and extraordinary character to put it all in the past and share your personal experience with your friends. all the best to you, christina and your beautiful family!

    • Thank you Neil! A few years ago I never would have thought I’d be writing something so vivid, so emotional because it happened to those I love most. Much of my writing experience in the past has been professional (i.e. marketing, advertising and business plans. I have a knack for the last one it seems.) When I began blogging it was wonderful to be able to write as myself and inspire others, both feel good feelings. This story that I wrote is obviously personal and was harder than you can imagine. I left so much out. Christina’s bravery simply takes my breath away. Again and again and again she’d get up go through the day, making sure her children were safe, dealing with things in her gentle way while the emotional brutality kept threatening all she holds dear. She and Duane did have an epic love. Over the years it was clearly displayed. His and her friends repeatedly expressed wistfulness and jealously in turn but were happy for their shared love and respect of each other. Thank you for your gentle, kind and loving thoughts. I appreciate them so very much, where ever you are right now (Im not sure about that) I hope your day is a good one!

  23. Oh Penny this made me cry…I can’t write anything except you are blessed to have uch a wonderful strong family.

    Great to have Christina join our blog family…you got me right in the heart this morning. Love to you and your wonderful family. Hugs

    • thank you boomie. This was a very hard write for me. Yes I am amazingly blessed with my family. I never forget that, not for a minute. Thanks for welcoming Christina into your home. She does have a gift for writing. To see it blossoming on her website as she finally feels safe to let her emotions out in her own beautiful way is a very wonderful gift to me. Thank you for caring. Go hug and kiss that wonderful family of yours, from my family to your family much love with many many hugs! 🙂

  24. I am sure it must have been difficult to share this. We know these things go on daily….unfortunately. Your loving care and support for your daughter and family comes out in every post you make.

    The amazing thing about you is not that you support your family………we all would probably do that….

    The amazing thing is that you support all of us that read your blog too. We come here wanting to read something comfortable and uplifting and we always receive it. We go away feeling good and apply many things you have written to our daily lives.

    Not many of us have that gift. We may give succor and support on occasion, but can’t continue it for long.

    You do it constantly.

    • Yes meme it was very hard to share this. Thank you for your very kind and sincere words. I am what I am, no more no less. I mess up, I make mistakes, I try to make a difference every day and I embrace each day as it comes, when I love I love deeply. To have witnessed what I witnessed to those I love most these last few years has been soul searing. I remember Emma one day asking me if they cried too much would they use up all the water in their bodies. How do you begin to answer that without crying yourself. I am blessed. This is a good time. The family (all of them, are moving on and sleeping much better at night). I love being a blogger and sharing things from my perspective and will continue to do so. I love my online friends. There are a handful that are most special to me. You are one of them. Thank you so much for being you and for caring, sending so much love and warmth your way my friend, and lots of hugs. Lots!!!!! 🙂

  25. I did not realise you were Christina’s mother. What his parents did was one of the most cruel things that someone could do. To smile while handing eviction notices to children … I would have been filled with so much rage. Every part of what happened, I would have turned on them because of the nastiness of them. It shows how you have brought her up with the loving attitude that she has and for your son to help her.

    I hope that in years to come that Duane’s parents see what they have lost and either just simply apologise and mean it, or do something to make it up to Christina and the kids. Thank you for sharing her story. It had me in tears near the end. I’m glad they can stay in the house with the memories.

    • At the time when Christina ventured out into the “blogging world” I felt protective of her and her family so I did make my references oblique. As I watched the love and honest regards that fellow bloggers were sharing with her, praising her, encouraging her on, my own heart just burst with happiness because inside she has the most amazing gentle, kind and loving soul. Duane loved her for good reason! When his mom was never able to give him unconditional love, Christina did. And he grew to unconditionally love her right back. For her to now not only be able to express her own individual creative talents but at long last bring forth that which she held inside for such a painfully long time is the greatest gift I can receive. Thank you Mondrak for your wonderfully supportive and kind thoughts I appreciate you very much! Many hugs my friend!

  26. What a heartbreaking story. I’m sorry for all you and your family have been through. Have you thought about writing a book? It can be even more therapeutic than a blog (believe me, I know)
    You have an incredible family and I wish you all the best.
    Now, I’m going to check out Christina’s blog…

    • Thanks Maggie, Yes I really have, but to send a message of love and hope, nothing more. Well perhaps awesome bravery that my daughter has shown and awesome “being there’ as my son and his wife have shown. Thank you so much for your loving remarks. It really is about love isn’t it. Hugs to you, have a very good day today!

  27. Penny,this was so powerful, and heartbreaking. But in the end, it felt blessed reading it, because none of you reacted with bitterness or anger.None of you went into victim.
    It reminded me of the Taoist verse..the last lines are:
    Be gentle and you will need no strength,
    Be patient and you will achieve all things
    Be humble and you will remain entire.

    May the Source be with you all

    • Thank you valerie for your kind thoughts and for sharing those oh so wise words. It is interesting, Christina never felt like a victim, And I, I just felt helpless but willing to do whatever could be done. I think our biggest concern was the well being of the children. Thank you again I appreciate your comments and your care very very much! hugs to you.

  28. Wow. What an amazing family you have Penny and how lucky you all are to have each other. This is a truly wonderful post and I wish you and your lovely family much love and happiness in the future x

    • Thank you so very much Dory, and yes I do. Christina is awesome and my son, well what can I say. He’s her big brother and the kids adore their Uncle Nick. I am very blessed and now I have great online friends like you. Thanks for the warm wishes hugs rught back at you and yours! 🙂

  29. After I read your post I first hugged my partner, then klicked the “like” button and as it left me speechless in compassion I will thank you for sharing this with a vitrual hug to you and your dear ones. ((((((((((((((((((((( hug )))))))))))))))))))))

    • Oh Steffi, thank you so much, I just shared your comment and virtual hug with my daughter she thanks you also. This was hard to write, having said that I felt the need to. We are so happy to be able to finally move on. My dear friend I wish you didn’t live so far away I’d come right over and give both of you great big hugs. I will send hugs and kisses back to you, Again a special thank you, Penny xoxoxo

      • Penny, nothing is ever too far away for hugs and kisses! 😉

        I see that it must have been challenging to put this story out. And yet it is so healing. It is healing because the writing (naming) of the events gives you a stand point, because putting it “out” is transforming for you and because sharing it is encouraging and transforming for others, also.

        And it strengthens the bonds of understanding and connection which in my opinion is more important than ever, these days. 🙂

        I am happy for you (all of you) that you were able to finally take the space for grieving so that you, now, can move on stronger and with a new understanding of how important it is to keep up the love inside. (As every such moving event leaves us with a new understanding of what we might already knew, before)

  30. I’m sorry you all had to go through that. It is nightmarish how people can be sometimes.

    The lovely part about your post is how i saw neither of you break through this cruel adversity but instead grow as people and (your daughter especially) rise to the ocassion. That is the most beautiful thing a human being can possibly do. It is the point of all epics, most romantic comedies, and 73% of Bruce Willis films. You did it. You rose. 🙂

    • Graydon, I thank you. Both my daughter and I just read your comments together. She wants to go follow you too. We are moving on, it was awful but we did it. And we’re right up there with Bruce too. 🙂 Again so much thanks from us both!

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