My mother died last spring. It was an interesting experience to go through. To this day I haven’t cried. You see, my mother and I never were on the same page. From the time I was a little girl, I realized she wanted a different child. I could never satisfy her as hard as I tried, and most of my life I wondered why the “stork” dropped me on her doorstep.
My mother was right about one thing, though. I am not like my siblings. All of them are content to live their lives in the little world in which we grew up. I wasn’t. I had big dreams. When I was younger, I wanted to sing on Broadway. I had the talent, just not the training, nor the support. I wanted an education, but my mother told me the only girls who go to college are looking for an MRS degree.I wanted to travel, but I married a man like my father who wanted to stay home.
It wasn’t until I was 35 that I started living my life. Even with my mother constantly telling me that going back to school at “my age” was “the dumbest thing I had ever done,” I persevered. I turned a deaf ear to her sage wisdom and completed my degree. I proved her wrong. Going to college was the BEST thing that I had ever done, and to this day, it is my proudest achievement in my life to graduate Magna Cum Laude in four years with the added responsibilities of two children and a part-time job. The best part of putting myself through college (I didn’t get a dime from my husband) was “finding myself” just like all of the other much younger students. I just had to wait a little longer. And when I found “Barbara,” I liked what I saw.
After graduation, of course, a divorce rolled around. Now I was on my own for the first time in my life. I was scared at first, but I knew I couldn’t carry on the way I had been going. What I discovered was I was happier on my own. I had no money, (except for a few months of alimony), no job, and nothing in my little apartment. But slowly, bit-by-bit things fell into place. I spent the next year working at a job I loved, spending time with my girlfriends and spending the rest of the time reading uninterrupted.
One wonderful thing that happened during these “darkest hours” was I meeting two travel agents from the East Coast. For a year and a half, we cruised through all parts of the Caribbean and even took in Bermuda. They gave me a wonderful gift–a chance to escape my real life where my teenage daughters had disowned me because I had the audacity to leave their selfish, mean father. Added to that heartache, there was the pressures of learning to live on my own for the first time in my life.
As I look back on the whole scenario, it truly was the best of times and the worst of times. Fighting for MY life was hard, but it was necessary. I broke out of the small town and had new opportunities to see things I never thought I’d see and do things I never dreamed I’d do. Did you ever walk up a waterfall? I did–in Ocho Rios in Jamaica. Have you seen Mayan ruins? I have in Mexico. Have you shopped in the Straw Market in the Bahamas? Have you danced till dawn with a ship rolling under your feet? Or experienced a horrendous storm at sea with 30 foot seas? I’ve done all of this.
I was also invited to Jane’s home in Maine, which was a beautiful 200-years house with fireplaces in every room. I also was invited to Robin’s place which was near historical Boston where we walked Quincy Market and sat in “Norm’s chair” at the bar that the television program Cheers was based upon. It was a time of my life I would do again. I have pictures to prove it!
Best of all I kept journals of my travels, knowing this remarkable time in my life was special and most likely would never be repeated. It was fun times spent with wonderful women. Thank God, I took a risk to ignore the “advice” of my mother. May she rest in peace.