After I learned that my step-mom passed away yesterday, I was filled full of many different emotions. Sadness of course knowing she was no longer here on this earth, but also a certain sense of awe as I know that when my dad passed a big piece of her went with him and now they are together.
This morning I come to the blank page and would like to give a sort of tribute to the woman named Lee that was married to my dad.
I remember the first time I met Lee, it was at a restaurant outside of Seattle and I was on a book tour with my book Fig on a Stick. I hadn’t talked to my dad in several years and knew he wasn’t far away and asked him if we would like to meet and I would take him out for dinner. The date was set and my dad told me he would pick me up at the hotel and was bringing his wife Lee.
I guess I had met Lee when I was a kid visiting my dad for a few weeks during a summer vacation, but I don’t really remember much about her except she had 2 kids Danny and Chrissy and some goats. She and her then husband at the time were good friends of my dad.
To be honest I was a little disappointed he would be bringing “her” along, but of course I was disappointed. All my remembrances of the last woman he was married to was far from pleasant and unfortunately I had put Lee in that box, without even knowing her.
I waited in the lobby back in 2006 and watched for my dad and even though I hadn’t seen him in several years there he was, still looking the same but different. The difference I would later understand was that he was happy and that he was loved.
Lee gave me a warm hug, but as I said earlier I had placed her in “that” corner of step-mom. The evening was great, we talked, my dad beamed. Everyone who walked by he picked up my book and said, “this is my daughter, she wrote a book!”
It was all very endearing actually. And then the evening ended and I hugged them both good-bye happy to see my dad happy.
Fast forward 5 years, the year is now 2011 and my brother, sister and I get word that our dad has Leukemia and not much time to live. We 3, get on a plane, but we miss his passing by one day. That night in our hotel is very vivid as the 3 of us share memories of our dad and then the conversation turns to Lee and our step-brother and sister that we don’t really know.
I say to Terry and Sandy, we may have to prepare ourselves. They may not appreciate us coming to say our good-byes since we all haven’t really seen dad in several years. We all braced ourselves for the next day when we would all be at the viewing.
We 3 arrived that morning first. We said our final good-byes and we even each wrote our dad a letter and placed it inside his suit. We were nervous and filled with emotion.
When Lee and Dan his wife April and Chrissy came in, what happened will never be forgotten. They treated us with so much love. We all hugged and cried together and told stories about our Dad. We learned how much our dad still talked about us when we were little and that we were very much loved. I will always be grateful for the new family that we became a part of that day.
I was fortunate enough to make 2 more visits to Washington to visit with them before she passed away.
So yes, my heart is sad for the loss of an amazing woman that really adored my dad. She welcomed us with open arms and my heart hurts for Dan and Chrissy in particular.
Her memory is a blessing to me an d my siblings in so many ways. She is now at peace with my dad and I know that together they are complete.
Thanks again Lee for accepting us and loving us when we needed it. Give Dad a hug from all of us.