May 8th is a tricky day for me. I think my favorite May 8th was in 2001. HH was 9 months old. We were living on a half-acre between Sunriver and LaPine, Oregon. I was unemployed, Mr. Blitch was recovering from a spine surgery (his second), and we were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Mr. Blitch was in his 4th year at Home Depot. Due to his long spinal recovery, he had been trained as a bookkeeper, and was working full-time days, starting at 0500. It was a half hour drive to the store in good weather, 45 minutes with ice or snow.
I was living my mother’s worst nightmare: breastfeeding, poverty stricken, gleefully hanging cloth diapers out to dry in the warm Central Oregon sunshine. I learned to bake that spring: I was determined to bake a cake for my son’s first birthday in August. Something my mother had not taught me to do.
I am a source of great embarrassment and disappointment to my mother. I completed a bachelor’s degree, with a minor in European Art History, no less. But I am the first woman in her line of the Oregon Applegates to not go on to complete a master’s degree. Many of my grandfather’s sisters had advanced degrees in the sciences: a mathematician, a WWII Women’s Airforce Pilot, a microbiologist.
Now that I am a nurse, she is proud of me, but the accomplishment came 20 years later than she would have preferred. And she does not care for my husband. He’s too tall. He likes to sing. Off key. He’s a Southerner. He likes to talk to strangers, and give hugs. Minor details. It’s complicated.
It is very, very, complicated.
Fortunately, despite my mother’s protests and concerns, Mr. Blitch has brought me much more than poverty and a barefoot pregnancy. He has taught me how to be kind to strangers, and receive kindness from strangers. He has taught me how to sing off key, and not give a rat’s ass who hears me.
He kept our mortgage paid, through years of debilitating pain. He has always put my needs and desires, as well as those of our son, ahead of his own. And he has given me an extended family, that loves and supports me in a way that my mother cannot.
Included in that extended family, are Harrison’s “Aunties,” Joannie and Diane. It’s a rich, long history, dating back to Diane’s parents, who were mentors in the pottery world to Mr. Blitch long before I met him.
They are closer to Harrison, and more involved in his life than any of his biological family. And they, like Mr. Blitch, have embraced me, and nurtured me, and made me feel like there is hope when I feel utterly lost.
Today they made a trip to Portland, to spend Mother’s Day with us. With me. It was the fullest, best, most beautiful May 8th I’ve had since that first one in 2001.
My cold, shriveled, heart got some fresh blood pumped back into it today. Feeling loved, and truly blessed.
Happy May 8th.
Very heart-warming. Family is what u make it.