Friday, July 30, 2010

'Meet Me in St. Louis' reprise

On May 12, I posted a blog about four friends with whom I have a deep rapport based on many, many years of honest communication. I said times with them were my “Meet Me In St. Louis” moments. The reference was to the Judy Garland movie full of nostalgic Norman Rockwell family times – with inevitable happy endings.

Our group has been our group for more than 30 years. And we weren’t that young when we first got together. None of us has had a life replete with happy endings and all of us face the physical, mental and emotional challenges of growing older … and the even more difficult challenges of dealing with diminishing partners.

As I planned my trip to Indiana/Chicago, I of course factored in time with our group. I live in Colorado. They live (most of the time) in widely scattered regions in the Chicago area. This time, none of them had home situations that could accommodate a guest, even if that guest was me. I stayed in a Chicago hotel and we worked around that.

Over the course of four days, I had a chance to be with these women – sometimes all four, sometimes one or two. And it was, as it always is, fun and deep and full of mutual affection. We trooped around to many of Chicago’s wonders, delighting in what we were seeing and in the delight we saw each other taking in the day.

The facts of our respective lives – however difficult – were shared without apology or complaint. We gathered strength from each other.

One sort of bonus day, a lunch meeting in one of our homes, I asked a question that was imbedded in my psyche. A question I could not ask of any other acquaintances. A question that I needed answered before proceeding with my trip.

I asked, “Why do we let our children judge us?” Frankly, I thought I was the only mother who put herself through this ringer. I learned that I was not. To some degree, each of us sought to be ‘acceptable’ in the opinions of our grown children. That was amazingly reassuring. I was not the only one. And knowing that, smiling at that unnecessary vulnerability, made me less vulnerable – less likely to imagine condemning thoughts roiling in the minds of my sons.

It was a “Meet Me in St. Louis” moment – reassuring, reinforcing, re-energizing. Essential. And this little essay is my thank you note to the universe – a thank you for the presence of these women in my life.

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