PENINSULA ZOOMERS: A piece of a friend’s heart

A few weeks ago, my friend, Denice, encountered a different kind of autumnal experience.

The autumnal deluge has begun with torrential rains pouring down with relentless might, threatening to drown out any memories we had of an endless summer.

A little dreary this monsoon of ours… but there is a bright side.

A few weeks ago, as the sun glittered through a colourful display of fall foliage, my friend, Denice, encountered a different kind of autumnal experience.

In her own words:

I saw a heart wearing a tuxedo a few days ago… it was a beautiful sight to behold.

The heart was mine and the one wearing the tuxedo was my son, waiting for his bride to come down the aisle.

How did this day sneak up on me? It seems sudden, even though he’s 35 and the marriage wasn’t a surprise.

But today, my feelings are.

Now that the anticipation and excitement of the wedding are over, my mood fits the season—autumn, the end of the brightness, warmth and joy of summer, with short, chilly, dull days ahead.

He’s my only child. A friend of mine once said to me, “You only did it once, but you put your whole heart into it.” It’s true and, 35 years later, my heart left me for another woman. How could I blame him.

My parenting skills were non-existent. At 32, I still wasn’t sure that I wanted to be a mother. I was terrified, impatient, frustrated and tired.

Then, I began to suspect my child was a bit different. Other kids dragged around a blanket or plush toy. Not my boy – he spent his days with my parents, and my father gave him a five-foot extension cord that became his “blankie”. God help us if we left home without it, the constant cries of “My cord, my cord” wouldn’t stop until we turned back to retrieve it.

I was so glad when he learned to talk, because I didn’t speak ‘baby’. But that proved to be a double-edged sword.

His constant phrase was “But Mom…” and the battle would begin. Except I was the only one fighting – he would just wait me out.

This went on for 12 years until one day I looked at him and realized he would never be perfect. How could he be? He didn’t have perfect parents.

So I surrendered and started to enjoy him

He was the son who was just right for me, just right for the type of mother I was. We grew up together.

With him, I learned tolerance, I learned to enjoy other kids, I learned to laugh at myself and find humour in the small, petty annoyances of everyday life (after he outgrew that bloody extension cord, of course!).

And when death suddenly pounded on the door and shamelessly invaded our home, I learned I could lean on him for support, I learned he was a young man who took up the challenges that now faced us.

He turned out good. He is smart, funny, wise, generous, kind, supportive and curious. He’s a fantastic travel companion who has made videos of all our trips together. He is a gentleman and also a gentle man.

Would Frank Sinatra say that I am now in the autumn of my years? Probably. But if Frank’s very good year was when he was 17, I feel sorry for him.

For me, 67 and the future is looking pretty good. I say that because my heart in the tuxedo has brought me a new heart to love and she is a beautiful woman in a beautiful wedding gown.</i>

Thank you, Denice, for sharing your ‘heartfelt’ story.

April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP, a national group committed to a ‘New Vision of Aging for Canada.’ She writes monthly.