Oh God, where are the tears?

I’m in a strange way today.  My stepmother passed away, almost the same time as Doris Day whom she resembled when they were both a lot younger.  You’ll have to believe me as I have no photos of her.  She hated having her picture taken as she aged and grew plump and would threaten anyone who pointed a camera in her direction.
I’m not weepy.  In a way, it’s a relief.  For the last few years, she’s lived in diapers, bedridden and often incoherent … too heavy and brittle of bone  to be transported for family dinners or holidays.  With the exception of my brother, anyone who cared about her either died or moved too far away for regular visits. So there are no tears but I am not okay.
I was living in Europe when, without warning, I got the news that my father had remarried. The announcement was hidden in a rambling letter filled with weather and ski conditions and other of life’s mundanities, a somewhat innocuous little sentence between “your brother bought a motorcycle” and “the dog has fleas” and there it was:   “By the way, Mrs. Hindley and I got married the other day.”  I broke down with a resounding NO that probably wasn’t heard on the other side of the world but blew my uncle off his perch at the bar and into the arms of his boss’s buxom, boozy secretary.
At that time, I didn’t knew my stepmother well, but I knew her children.   Her poor broken children. The eldest, a girl, spent  her teen years in and out of the psyche ward until she dropped out of school and ran off with her boyfriend.  The two boys also dropped out, married and ended up in the Navy.  Did I mention that my stepmother was a kindergarten teacher?
I suppose I should say kind words as the woman did me no real harm.  She was in general, generous.  I have many trinkets from her numerous trips.  Until recently she remembered everyone’s birthday and she adored my father.  Okay, she pulled him farther to the right politically than was sane, judged people by their pedigrees and thought African Americans were out to get her because her ancestors owned slaves.  But she adored my father; almost worshipped him.  Even when he accidentally shot Beauregard  (her beloved basset hound) to death while on a hunting trip.  She forgave him.
I don’t know what’s going to happen now. My stepmother died in Reno, Nevada.  One of my step brothers lives in Denver, the other in Houston and the only granddaughter who cares lives in Alaska.  Reportedly they all need money which she supposedly had.
Oh God, where are the tears?

36 thoughts on “Oh God, where are the tears?

  1. Jan – this is such a sad story and I don’t quite know what to say. I’m so sorry for the pain you are feeling. There may be no tears, but you are grieving. Hugs.

  2. Hi Jan,

    This seems par for the course that you’re playing on. Well, maybe a bogey or even a double bogey. Any information on the boozy secretary? But seriously, too bad. Like Joanne, it is hard to know what to say about these kinds of things. I think it is easier for us to talk about our own crazy relatives, then somebody else’s. Because when you start putting down other people’s blood or otherwise kin, it might trigger a sort of family defense mechanism deep inside somewhere and out comes, hey, hold on there pal, she might be bad, but she’s my bad. Anyway, I’d suggest a drink or a joint, but maybe you are already there. Sorry, what to do? Everything sounds normal to me, but then I’m a fucked up outlier. Glad we are back in communication. It seemed like years since we pulled little Timmy out of the frozen lake. Do you remember how cubee he felt? Thanks. Duke

    1. It has been years. Poor Timmy has taken up with the buxom lass. It was the head wound don’t you know. I feel a sadness as though when you pass you must face what has remained hidden and cancerous. I hope not, of course, but that was the sort of feeling in the air yesterday.

  3. Sounds like a sort of out of body grieving like it’s someone else’s. Maybe that makes no sense. Have the drink Duke suggests. Maybe two.

  4. There so much history and pain in your words. The tears will either come later or when you least expect them. You sound as if you are in shock. Take it easy nature always sorts things out. 💜🧡

  5. Tears usually come later. Or sometimes they don’t when people die old.

    Oddly enough, I’m working on a story about a stepfather. Fiction, though, but it’s as if you’re reading my thoughts. I’ll have to make him cruel now, more stereotypical.

    She adored your father. Period. You’ll forgive her….one day.

    1. I don’t have anything to really forgive her. As a stepmother myself, I know how know how hard it is. Children are predisposed not to like new parents. In some ways, I’m sorry I wasn’t a better stepdaughter.

      1. I know what you mean. My stepsister never forgave our dad for remarrying, marrying my mom who was wonderful to her. Shame she didn’t appreciate it. We lost touch.

  6. Not everyone who dies generates tears. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. If your stepmother caused you no harm, and made your Dad’s life better, then it sounds like you have a sensible understanding about her. Just because you were ‘related’ doesn’t mean you have a relationship, you know?

    1. I think at her age it is a relief for everyone. I wish I felt that her passing was peaceful but I believe we all face our demons in the end and I suspect there were a few waiting for her. The air was quite unsettled. Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate it.

  7. I’m sorry that you are hurting – and I wish you peace as you process this. It sounds like grief has taken on a different shape for your step-mum, and this has thrown you for a loop. Either way, I wish you ease.

  8. Ah Jan… I’m sorry.
    There don’t have to be tears with grief. Some people act like they think if we don’t cry there must be something wrong with us. It’s clear that you are grieving. Grief just “looks” different this time.
    Great big hug. ❤

  9. I’m so sorry, Jan, for your loss. Grief is a complicated process and manifests itself in many different ways depending on the person. Take care of yourself in the next little while especially.

  10. Sorry for your loss Jan. I’m not going to repeat what others have already said better than I would have, about grief and loss being different for each of us. Just know that I’m one of the many friends on here sending positive thoughts and virtual hugs your way. Please do take care of yourself 🙂

  11. Sorry to hear the awful news, Jan. Wished there was something I could say that could ease the pain, or improve the situation. I want to press like on your post but, somehow it seems inappropriate given the loss. All the same, I’m thinking of you and wishing you well.

    1. Yes, the like button often seems inappropriate. But when our parents get to the age when quality of life is minimal it’s hard to know what to feel. A chapter is closed. Thanks for your kind wishes.

  12. You are an incredible writer, Jan, and your “take” on life is extraordinary, as evidenced in this post. I am sorry for the loss of your stepmother, and I hope your grief unfolds smoothly and with ease. Your stories here, memories, images are so filled with the treasures of life. This sentence is truly incredible: “I broke down with a resounding NO that probably wasn’t heard on the other side of the world but blew my uncle off his perch at the bar and into the arms of his boss’s buxom, boozy secretary.” Thanks for sharing these intimacies, and good luck in the difficult moments ahead; and dear one, don’t ever stop writing.

  13. Jan, I’m sorry to be reading this and commenting more than a month after you wrote it. But I’m really sorry. Family stuff is never easy. I hope you’re doing all right. I miss chatting. ❤

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