Today one of a few great women I’ve had the blessing of knowing has been on my mind a lot. Not that I don’t think of her in one way or another most days, but today it’s been more than most.
It was about 15 years or so ago. My paternal grandmother (my one lifeboat growing up) had passed away not long before, and it was a loss like I had never experienced. The trauma and abuse, and then the loss on top sent my body into a whirl spin. This is another common thread among CPTSD patients – the trauma’s can have a huge impact on your health beyond any physical injuries. I had developed migraines to the point that I experienced stroke like symptoms on the left side of my body. While I was recovering from this, I couldn’t work. My youngest had started elementary school so I started out as a home room mom to make myself get out more. It wasn’t long until I found myself at my first PTA meeting.
What a meeting! There weren’t enough members from the previous year to fill all the offices, so the first order of business was to get a PTA president. They were discussing who could do what, etc. trying to fill the president and other offices. By the end of the meeting, I’m trying to figure out a way to just leave, when from across the room, a lady I had never said more than hello to says “I’ll be president this year, if she’ll be my vice-president!” Naturally I looked up to see who was speaking and who they were speaking about. She was pointing at me.
Needless to say I was blown away. Over the years as I got to know her, there couldn’t have been two women more different on the planet. There wasn’t much beyond the school that we ever agreed upon. That’s what makes this next part that much more incredible.
She eventually got the basics of my story out of me. Her only words were “Now you got me. I’ll be your Adoptive Mom and you have a new family now.” From that day on, her, her husband, and her family were there for me. She called me Adoptive Daughter and loved me unconditionally. Me! A total stranger. When I had to have surgery, she took care of me, cancelling their vacation simply saying “You’re family.” When my birthdays rolled around, they did all of their traditions with me that they did with their own son. When the holidays came, she let me know what was expected, not because she wanted something, but because I was family.
Anyone can appreciate how rare my Adoptive Mom was. She didn’t have to take on these problems of mine. She didn’t have to help a complete stranger. But she did. My life has forever been changed by her. No matter what we didn’t agree on, I was her Adoptive Daughter, no ifs, ands, or buts.
When cancer stole her away a few years later, I was faced again with a huge loss. In my grief for her, her voice of wisdom kept shining through. In many ways I learned more from her unconditional love and support than I ever learned with my family. I knew I couldn’t let the loss of her set me back. If she had been alive, she wouldn’t have stood for it.
So there is my short version story of a great woman I knew. Hopefully you get an idea of why she crosses my mind a lot. For a child who crawled out of the abuses of home, Adoptive Mom was and is a huge part of my healing. For that I will always be thankful for.