How many of you had a dream or a vision of what your life would be like when you were “all grown up”? A doctor, a lawyer, an astronaut, a scientist, a writer, a teacher?
As a child born smack dab in the middle of what is known as the Baby Boomer years (1946-1964), our lives were becoming full of choices for our futures. Unlike those born in earlier generations, where women might become secretaries, hair dressers, nurses, clerical workers and teachers and men became engineers and drafters, vocational workers (construction, electrical, auto, etc.), we would have the opportunity to work in fields such as computer programming and later computer designing, corporate jobs, owning businesses, graphics, and many other technical types of jobs.
Mixed in with those jobs, we also might have wanted to be married, have children, travel. I think the mothers of the majority of my friends growing up were stay-at-home moms, or “domestic engineers” as we sometimes joked about.
I had a dream back then. For a period of time, the only real goal I wanted was to be married and have a half dozen kids. Not only did I want to be married, I wanted a long and lasting marriage as those of my parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents. They would be examples of enduring love with marriages lasting 40, 50, 60 years. THAT’S what I wanted more than anything.
But….. it was not in the cards for me.
I married my first husband when I was just 22 years old. We had two children and decided two was enough. Poised for the marriage of a lifetime, with our marriage on track after 20 years, a tragic accident took his life.
I was still young for all intents and purposes – only 43 at the time of my husband’s passing. Our foster daughter asked if I would ever marry again. My response: “I am too young and have too much to offer someone to think I will be alone for the rest of my life. Not that I am going out looking right now, but there will be someone in my future.” Months later I was out dating and two years later was married to my second husband.
Again, I thought there was plenty of time to have one of those long marriages. Only in my forties, I could envision a 40+ year marriage. “Yeah,” I thought, maybe this time I will achieve my dream!” Our wedding theme was “grow old along with me”.
My husband loved the idea of growing old with me. We had visions of holding hands while walking around the neighborhood, the park, on vacations. We dreamt of travelling. He used to tell me “I’m going to take you top cabin”, a joke between us because he knew I couldn’t affordlots of nice things with my first marriage.
Once again, this was not my destiny, not my future. Less than twenty years after the death of my first husband, I lost my second husband to cancer. Not only that, but our visions of traveling when he retired were snuffed out in the prior five years before his death because of health concerns.
Twenty years… two husbands. “How could this be?” I would ask myself. Why couldn’t I have at least one long, long marriage, grow old along with a partner. I would joke I had 36 years combined between the two – but it is not the same at all. Not in my mind.
My second husband used to say he sort of wanted to ask me to never get married again (he’s the jealous type). My response was, “honey, I will have buried two husbands! I am NOT going for a third.” Honestly, I don’t have it in me to do this again. [Note: I have to remind myself God may have other plans for me. Never say never!]
At this point, I have no interest in pursuing a relationship. Living with a husband who had cancer for five years wore me out. For now, I am content with trying to make myself the best version of me that I can be.
I have always been a girl with “glass half full” attitude. Life has taught me to ebb and flow with the changing tides of life. Always seeing the positives in bad situations. There is much to be said for people who can see the light at the end of the tunnel, who can make lemonade out of lemons, who can simply choose life and love and happiness in spite of the obstacles put in their way.
While I realize this attitude comes easily for some people, for others there will be struggles to achieve any similarity to this notion. People who are glass half empty, have aplan for the worst kind of attitude. Are we simply wired this way from birth – or is it a learned behavior. I do not know the answer to this question because, surprise-surprise, I am not the kind of the person who will research things.
As a result of how life happened to me, I will never realize what I once thought was the best dream of all – to have a long marriage, to grow old with the love of my life and live long into our sunset years. However, being a glass half full person, I will spend my days remembering the good times that we had for the 20 + 16 I did have with my husbands. I treasure the things they both taught me. I live with their memories every day. I have subtle reminders of their lives with me in my new home, symbols of what “was”.
I guess it is time for a new dream, a new vision for my future. I am evolving as we speak, listening to my inner self to guide me in whatever direction that may be.
Oh, and about those half dozen kids…. Well, I stopped with the two that I birthed… but I became “like a mom” to more than a half dozen other kids, a bonus mom.While I didn’t raise them, I still love them.Some call me mom – and that’s a pretty big compliment!