It was quite the beautiful view outside the airplane window yesterday morning. Amanda and I were flying home after spending the last five days in her old stomping grounds to celebrate her parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary (Woohoo!… 50!… that’s pretty cool!… but I’ll get more into that). After spending the night trying to get comfy in the one square foot that airlines give you these days, the warmth of that sunrise was the perfect way to be welcomed home to the East Coast. Unfortunately, there was still another flight… and then an hour and a half drive back to The Schoolhouse before the traveling was done, but that sunrise was a nice way to start the day… which hadn’t really ended from the day before.
We got home late morning so I took advantage of the time, unpacked, and did laundry so that I could start the work week feeling settled. After being up for what we figured was around 30 hours I wasn’t exactly doing anything quickly, but the sun was out so I felt the need to do something… and then sit… do something else… and sit again. It hit me during one of my little breaks, as I sat in Kateri’s/Xander’s Chair and thought about this trip, that I am kinda dealing with another sort of loss from my life that is simply collateral damage from the loss of Kateri. She came from a big family… she had 7 siblings… and each of them were a huge part of Kateri’s and my life. It’s sorta The Nature of the Beast, but when Kateri died the frequency of Damato Interactions went the way of the dodo simply because she isn’t here. I love my In-Laws just as much now as I did when Kateri was alive, and I know they still love me, but life has changed for all of us. As I was staring out the big ol’ Schoolhouse window decompressing in the chair, I thought about how much I miss having them in my life… because they’re pretty awesome. Being widowed is technically the loss of a spouse, but in widowhood… you learn that you lose so much more. (Ok, that’s sounds a little dramatic. Kateri’s death is the big “loss” here… everything else is really just… different.)
(I needed to eat dinner… then I ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s… and then fell asleep on the couch. I’m back.)
The reason for this trip to Oregon was to celebrate Amanda’s parent’s 50th Wedding Anniversary. Amanda and her sister were asked to help with the party planning and to create a program (speech) which they would present to the guests. This was also quite a fairly good-sized shindig… 126 or so people!… so, we thought it would be a good idea to get there a few days early in case there were any party planning crisis..es. Amanda doesn’t get home much, so it was also a nice opportunity for her to catch up with family and a few friends. For me, I was excited to learn more about a woman who since the day I met her, I’ve just kinda wanted to know… more. I was looking forward to meeting people whom I’ve only seen in video, or heard stories about, or hadn’t met at all. I was thrilled to play my part in this little adventure… The Boyfriend!
For the most part, I just didn’t want to embarrass Amanda, disrespect anyone, or make an ass of myself…! In hindsight, I think I did ok. Also in hindsight, I don’t think I was expecting to receive as much as I did from this trip… even if no one knew they were giving me anything or I didn’t recognize it at the time. This trip allowed me to once again feel what it is like to be part of… how do I say this… someone else’s family… one that is sizeable and substantial… one that has history and stories and made up of all walks of life. I got to spend time with a family that loves one another. Yes, family is family and anyone reading this probably understands what that means (…eye roll, eyebrow raise, little head nod…) and can give examples of their own challenging experiences with Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Moms & Dads and annoying little brothers, but again… I’m The Boyfriend… just along for the ride with helping hands when needed…! I might’ve heard some tales about this person or that, but from my experience… they were all fascinating, delightful, and warmhearted people… mostly… 98.7%.
(Once again, I had to eat dinner… and then something came up… got distracted… went to bed. Now, take 3.)
People at work have asked me about the trip… How was it? How’d it go? and all that jazz… and I’ve gotta say that I’ve really enjoyed sharing some of the things I dug about our little excursion. It was nice to actually see where Amanda grew up and has spent most of her life. I think that where we live and the people who come in and out of our lives adds a uniqueness to each of our stories. The more we know, the better we can try to understand… well… “Where this person is coming from”… what makes them tick… what makes them… “them”.
Considering this being my first time visiting… and meeting a bunch of Amanda’s family, being “The Boyfriend” also afforded me the opportunity to sorta… observe… and there was something that kinda touched me on a couple of different fronts (Widowhood, Kateri, Amanda, relationships, marriage, anniversaries… love). When it comes down to it, we were there to celebrate the life of two people whose relationship as Husband and Wife started 50 years ago. As I tagged along here and there, as I hung out at their house watching and listening to 8 people simply doing what they do in a world I’ve only peeked into, I saw a beautiful thing… this thing called Love. I’m not talking the Love parents have for their children, grandchildren, or vice versa n such. And I’m not talking about the Love I saw between friends who haven’t been in the same space in way too long. No, I’m talking about the Love that has endured the ups and downs of building a life together for over half a century. It wasn’t the hundred and twenty whatever guests at the party or the beautiful slide show their Son-in-Law put together of their life that showed it to me. Nor was it the number of cards I saw in the basket congratulating them on this milestone. It actually had nothing to do with anything except for how Amanda’s parents interacted with… each other. They were comfortable together in that best friend kinda way. They were happy and excited to be sharing this experience with people in their life. They were proud. And when they danced to an audience at their 50th Wedding Anniversary, they were the perfect picture of two people who can take a moment away from the world as they get swept up in each other’s arms and in their love for one another… just the two of them… Husband & Wife.
Widower Notes n Thoughts:
- Our life is a book in the making and the pages filled with our stories add up over the days, months, and years as we live on the perpetual last page. Last week, I enjoyed sharing the last page with Amanda, her family, and her friends as we flipped through some of her earlier works.