May 1981 was a big month for me. I graduated High School and attended several weddings, one of which was that of my cousin. After the wedding she moved to Duncan Oklahoma where her husband was located. She invited me to come stay for a week as soon as I graduated, so June 1st I went to stay with them. Oddly enough I had a premonition that it would be a life changing visit, but I wasn't quite sure what kind of change. One evening I was in her tiny kitchen helping clean up after dinner when I heard her husband answer a knock at the door. I continued with the dishes and when I finish them, I walked into the living room where her husband sat visiting with a co-worker. The four of us sat around and chatted for a while. My first impression was.... Gosh, this guy is color coordinated from his head down to his toes. Having just graduated, I was used to the basic jeans and t-shirts guys wore at school. The two of us had a couple of dates that week. Long story short, when it came time for me to head back to Tulsa, I didn't want to go. I had no idea that in 6 1/2 months we would become man and wife. We met 35 years ago on June 3rd. This week we are taking an Alaskan Cruise with my cousin and her husband in celebration of what has been a union of hearts and a lifetime journey.
At 20 months old, with pigtails and bright blue eyes, if you asked Aja how old she was.... With an infectious smile, she would hold up two little fingers and announce with confidence and pride..... "I be two in June." Years later when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would tell you a Veterinarian. She attended two years at OSU and was accepted into the Design School when she decided to take a break. She moved back to Duncan and went to work as a teller in a bank. One evening she dropped by the house, that's when she dropped the bomb that she was considering joining the Navy. Nothing, simply nothing, could prepare me for the journey ahead. Many miles, countries and adventures later, her military career brought her back to Oklahoma as a Recruiter. When her time was up she decided to end her military service and work on getting a degree. This weekend we proudly sat in the bleachers as she walked across the stage to receive her diploma. Later at our celebration lunch, she mentioned it had only taken her 14 years to finish college. There have been times she has felt left behind as other friends finished college in the typical 4 years, and then directly began families. Her dad and I have always told her that her life story would be more interesting than typical due to the path she had taken. The commitment, dedication, and courage it took to go a different path, to do things her own way, gives you just a glimpse of how strong willed she is. I can only imagine having that kind of courage. One should never feel shamed when they take the scenic route through life. It's an opportunity that seldom comes along twice. You can always move toward the ultimate goal, but once you are settled into family life, you can never go back to the freedom of making choices without considering how each and every decision effects the entire family. The world remains her oyster and I can't wait for her to take a peek and see what the future holds. I'm betting life has a few surprises left for her.
As I was wrapping up the work week, I took a look at my day book for next week about the time the flower deliveries came for the Mom's in our office. I received a beautiful arrangement from my kiddos. Everyone knows that Thanksgiving and Christmas are a difficult time for a lot of people. Most do not realize that Mother's Day and Father's Day are equally, if not more difficult to some for a plethora of reasons. I have a difficult time not wanting to run to a hidey hole until the flowers have faded and the cards have been emptied from the store shelves. Why? I have a lot of could have, should have, and would have's about a lot of things concerning Mother's Day. I also know several people who struggle with the holiday due to having a special someone, be it a Mother, a child, or a step child who is no longer here to physically wrap your arms around to tell them how much you love them, how much joy they added to your life, and how much you miss them still. My heart breaks for women who suffer a pregnancy that ended too soon without the joy of cuddles and kisses. Life is difficult and whether it's wishing you had more patience when your kids were small, or wishing you had done things differently in another area of your life, we do the best we can in the moment. We all make mistakes that can't be undone. Loss is inevitable and seems so unfair. If you are one of the lucky ones who isn't missing a special someone this holiday, count your blessings. Take the opportunity to give your kids or Moms a hug while you are still able to do so. To those with empty arms, remember the good times and smiles. Although your arms may ache a little deeper, and the sting of your broken heart may be little sharper this weekend because your special someone is not here, remember they are always near. My prayers go to those who celebrate Mother's Day with one less setting at the table, and who know too well the ache of empty arms.