If you are lucky, if you are very, very lucky, some people cross your life path and leave ties that bind. What starts as a friendship becomes so strong that a family-like bond happens and even when time and distance separate those friends, the bonds remain strong. I was lucky enough to have that happen to me.
My mother has had many careers in her life. Graduating from college in the 1950’s with a degree in Physical Education, she embarked on a career as a physical therapist at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Francisco. She was already married to my father and after 5 years of marriage, I was born. This led my mother to her most important career: that of a stay-at-home mother (SAHM) to me and my three siblings that followed. She did not work outside of the home again until I was 12-years-old and my youngest sibling (my brother) was 6.
Then she worked part-time as a sales clerk in a major retail store and followed that with a full-time job with the Girls Scouts as a Field Executive. She remained with the Girls Scouts for many, many years and retired in her late 50’s. But, my mother has never been one to “just sit back and rest on her laurels” and watch the world go by. As a major participant in life, she contemplated the next phase of her life and thought maybe, just maybe, a real estate career might be something she would enjoy. After all, she loved people and loved traveling around our beautiful county and the freedom to make her own hours. So, she went to real estate school and got her license and started selling houses.
Then a funny thing happened: she realized she didn’t like selling houses. She didn’t like the pressure of meeting sales quotas and she didn’t like selling after all.
So, what was she going to do the rest of her working life (she still wasn’t ready for full retirement!)?
Thinking back over her life, she realized that she loved babies and she loved children. What better than to be a nanny?
So at the age of 60, she became a nanny to a young English family that had moved to San Diego to pursue an exciting business opportunity. This young couple already had a 2-year-old son, Samuel, and the Mom, Gina, was pregnant with their second child, the soon-to-be-born, Alexandra. After interviewing my mother and deciding that she was perfect for the job, they hired her and she spent 3 1/2 years loving and nurturing these 2 children.
For the 3 1/2 years they lived here, this family was included in all of our family gatherings, building that bond of love, friendship and caring that has ended up transcending time and distance. These ties that bind have transcended time and distance because, after 3 1/2 years in Southern California, they moved back to England for good.
But, their “Grammy” was always their “Grammy” and to this day, she remains their “Grammy.”
So, while they moved back to England and have now lived there almost 20 years, we still see them every few years or so. Before my parents got to the age where they no longer travel, they were able to visit England twice for extended visits strengthening the bonds. And, this family has come back to San Diego with regular frequency over the last 20 years, keeping that bond alive.
I call Gina, Sam and Ali’s mom, my English sister. Over the years, she and I have developed a strong bond built on respect, trust, sharing confidences and the common bond born of loving my mother. I consider Samuel (Sam) and Alexandra (Ali) another nephew and niece.
Once when Sam and Ali were visiting when they were about 14 and 12, respectively, Sam asked me why did we like his family so much? I didn’t have an answer – at least I didn’t have an answer that explained it definitively. I just said that sometimes in life people just “click” (really a most unsatisfactory answer).
The wonder of it is that sometimes in life an intangible magic happens that is unexplainable – I think they call that love.
Above photo collage: left – Sam and Ali; top right – my nephew, Kyle, my Mom “Grammy” and Ali; bottom right – Ali and me trying to kiss her!
Above photo left to right: Melissa, Tiffany holding Samantha, Sam, Nicole, Ali. Missing from the picture: Kyle.
From left to right: Charlie, Carole, Gail, Samantha, Chuck, Princess P, Tiffany pregnant with Princess Sweetie Pie, Gina, Grammy Jo and Andrew (Gina’s husband) in front.
Bert and Ali taking skydiving lessons – January 2013. Love this picture of Ali!
So, my question to all of you: is skydiving a metaphor for life?