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  • Writer's pictureDawn

The Tree Doesn't Fall Far From the Apple

Okay, I know this is not the correct saying – normally the Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. But I had a revelation last night. And it was the reverse of what one normally thinks.

Generally, our children learn from us. They watch us. They mimic us (sometimes in a nice way, sometimes not, lol). They observe us for cues in how they should behave in certain situations.

However… last night during a fairly deep discussion with Ron, I actually heard myself saying something that my daughter, Becke, had said just a few months after the passing of her dad, my Mike.

Several months after Mike died, a close friend of Becke’s made a derogatory comment to her. He told her, “Ever since your dad died, you’ve changed.” Now some would take that as a compliment, but at the time he was not presenting it to her as that. I do not know what transpired prior to his comment, but can only imagine that Becke was being bull-headed about something, pushing back against something that was done or said. Her response to him was absolutely brilliant for a fifteen-year-old. She yelled back at him, “That’s because I HAD to change. I DID NOT HAVE A CHOICE.” Indeed, her world had been rocked, flipped upside down – and there was nothing she could do to change what had happened. She could, however, change herself to meet the world and it’s expectations of her.

Last night, as Ron and I were talking, he made the comment that I was a very independent woman. While I took that as a compliment, my brain shot off in several directions (which he duly noted) as I thought about that. My mind travelled back to what Becke had told her friend, and I, too, stated… “That’s because I had to. I had to learn to be independent. I did not have a choice.”

Back in 2000, though I was the primary parent and the one who took care of the household and bill paying and grocery buying, etc., when Mike died, I became the ONLY parent. I had no backup. I had no support for myself in raising the girls (or finish raising them as they were teenagers already). I couldn’t ask someone to run to the store for last minute supper fixings. I was it. I had to change in an instant, whether or not I was ready for it. I had to figure out how to purchase a car, how to maneuver all the things that a couple does, how to update legal documents.

Then, when George was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 I would once again need to learn new skills. I had to become the main cheerleader and champion for him, I had to become his advocate, his nurse, his everything. As time went on, I had to figure out how to pay the bills “his way”, how to take care of simple household tasks and how to ask for help if something was beyond my scope.

I wanted so badly for George to still feel valuable and would either try to ask for his instructions – or even have him make a phone call for a plumbing repair (since all he did was sit all day long, I figured a phone call was the least he could do – and would make him feel he still could contribute to life). Yet his reply to me was, “I need you to learn how to do it because I won’t be around to help later.” I was a tad bit frustrated by this and replied, “Trust me, honey, if I can’t figure out how to do something I have no problem either calling a friend who can help or looking up a company that can do it.”

So – once again I was on my own, having to figure out how to get things done. It was up to me to keep everything running, everything going. Yes, I was forced to become independent, whether or not I liked it. I did not have a choice.

My two husbands, in their own way, gave me some life skills that would help me be independent. Their deaths also gave me some life skills to use. I learned that I had best rely on my own abilities to get things done. I do not have a backup partner. I have me.

I have become fiercely independent. I know what I want, and I go get it. I know what I like, and I have no problem treating myself to what I like. I bought and sold a home, I totally furnished my home with décor of my choosing, surrounding myself with light and air and everything open. I have sold and purchased new vehicles all on my own (maybe not getting the best deal that my guys would have negotiated, but that’s okay).

Just like Becke stated 21 years ago, “I had to change. I did not have a choice.” Well, there are always choices but the option of “curling up and doing nothing with my life” was never one I would make. Neither was it hers back in 2000.

I don’t think I ever thought I would be in a place where I would be called fiercely independent. There are certain parts of life that we are not designed to be independent of others. I still require companionship, friendship, and camaraderie.

I may be fiercely independent when it comes to figuring things out – but I am also extremely dependent on having relationship with others. We, as humans, were designed to be in relationships. We were not made to navigate life alone. We need “our peeps” – they give us balance. We also need our “higher power” – whether you call it God or Yahweh or even Buddha.

Remember – when life throws you a curveball (and it always will), you need to first call on your higher power, then on your peeps. You may be independent – but you will always need them!

And sometimes, you might even get words of wisdom from your children!!

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