I referred to my mother and maternal grandmother as my parents growing up. I was raised by them. Shortly after my mom and father separated, my mom was diagnosed with severe COPD and my grandmother began to fight her first battle with cancer. I had the responsibility of caring for these two women who taught me the true meaning of strength. I also had an underlying fear that I was going to lose them both at a young age. I would lie in bed and pray. I asked God to let me keep my parents every night from the age of 13 to the age of 19. Every night for six years I asked Him not to make me an orphan. In 1992 I lost one parent, my grandmother lost her second battle with cancer at 85 years old, eight months after my son was born. I was nineteen years old. After a year and several long stints in the hospital, my mother died due to her chronic lung issues. She died two months before I turned twenty-one.
I was lost when my parents died. I lost myself for over a year, focusing on my son gave me the strength to keep moving forward. Still I was young when I lost my parents, I long for the wisdom and strength I had drew from them. Emotionally I was still very much lost with no real family to draw to connect with. Two years after I lost my mother I moved southern Oregon to live near longtime family friends. I took a job at a local manufacturing plant and met the woman who stepped into the role of my mother.
Jan and I connected immediately, the ease in which she accepted people, even loved them reminded me so much of my own mother that I was drawn to her. She loved me unconditionally. She saw something in me that I, at the time, did not see in myself. After a few months she introduced me to her husband Jim and they began to refer to me as their own daughter. We became a family. She helped me with my son, sitting for me while I was at work and inviting me to dinner and family functions frequently. When I moved to Portland we stayed in touch but didn’t see each other often. My momma and daddy came to visit occasionally and I called when I could but we didn’t get to see each other as often as any of us would have liked.
This year when I began to struggle I talked to momma a lot. When it became clear I would need to move and regroup, she and daddy nearly insisted that I come and stay as long as I needed to. I moved in with my parents and over the course of the past week I have been getting settled back into my home. I can’t remember the last time I felt like I was really home. I am in a place filled with unconditional love and support. I feel safe and at ease.
I didn’t want to move back to southern Oregon. I didn’t want to lean on anyone, especially my parents. But from the moment I pulled up in front of their house I have felt at peace. Only home and a family that loves you can do that. I needed my momma and daddy and they needed me too. I feel blessed that I have them in my life. God blessed me with two sets of parents (and a sister) that love me and my son unconditionally. The truth is I think we all need each other. We needed to be together again. It was time for me to come home.