“What comes around goes around”, she said as I dropped off multiple giant garbage bags. Bags that were filled with my soon to be ex-wife’s belongings.
It was totally inappropriate for her to say at this time… and yet it was dead accurate. There’s no point going into detail as to the validity of her words… because the truth is… I owned it. No matter how upset I was, or how much self-pity I wanted to wallow in, I had to own it. It’s true… what comes around does indeed go around… and it was my time to have it come back around. It didn’t take away the sting of hearing it, but that was tempered with the knowledge that she was also defending her youngest daughter.
Like a lost and beaten pup, feeling something between hurt and anger, I unloaded everything and got back into the running truck parked in the driveway. The next year or so… was hard. It was filled with vengeful anger and bitterness. It would take some time for these feelings to dissipate. And just about the time that all the negative feelings started to diminish, my ex-wife passed away. This seemed to destroy any of the healing progress that had been gained and sent me into a tailspin. There were so many things left dangling out there… including the last hurtful words from my former mother-in-law.
Six years later…my youngest son is getting married. My traditional role (as the sole surviving parent of the groom) was of course to handle the rehearsal dinner. My duties complete, I attended the wedding the following day. My oldest son was the Best Man. For some reason, it never dawned on me to be prepared to see my former in-laws. I guess it was dumb on my part, but it never crossed my mind. But there I was… on the front pew at the church… sitting next to a photograph of the mother of my children… and right next to my former mother-in-law.
The wedding starts with the usual introduction and prayers. The 10-year-old Ring-Bearer leans over toward me on the front row. “I don’t have the rings”, he whispered. I’m sitting next to a beautiful picture of my ex-wife who passed away, and there is my former mother-in-law at my side… while both my sons are in front of the entire church… I’m being told there are no rings? Anxiety hits an all-time high.
“Where are they?”, I whispered back.
“They were in my pocket”, he mumbled back while patting the breast pocket of his coat.
I dropped down to one knee, patted the breast pocket… then followed downward with my hands until I got to the bottom of his coat. Bingo! They had slipped through a hole in the interior seam of the breast pocket and had worked its way down through the inside lining… but there was no way to get to it! The nearest pocket was a fake pocket and sewn shut. I could tell by the Pastor’s words; he was nearing the portion where he would soon be asking for the rings!
“I have a knife in my truck”, I thought to myself. But that was no good. I would be halfway out of the church by the time they needed the rings. Without missing a beat, I turned the bottom portion of his coat outward, opened my mouth and clamped down on the inside lining. Like a rabid mad dog, I ripped it open. The tearing of the jacket seemed to cause the entire crowd to swivel their heads my direction. I must have looked like a madman to the average person. I slid my fingers through the gaping hole that I had bitten through. I had a good portion of the coat lining still in my mouth. I retrieved the rings and handed them to the young boy just in the nick of time.
Several hours later, while driving home from the wedding, I see a white Audi with a flat tire being being loaded onto a large flatbed tow truck. I immediately recognized my former sister-in-law and yes of course… my former mother-in-law. I pulled over and offered my assistance. I would have certainly changed the tire for them, but the car was already being lifted onto the tow truck.
“Can I help y’all do something?”, I asked.
“If you can take Mimi… that would be great. It’s just the auto shop back at the previous exit.”
I helped the fragile 90-year-old (and last surviving grandparent to my sons) into my truck. I loaded her walker and belongings. I started the drive, uncertain of how the conversation might go. ITo my surprise, it was genuinely pleasant. It was almost as though we had never had a cross word ever. There was nothing counterfeit within the our words, although a hint of nervous anxiety might have been an undertone in my speech. It was genuine and sincere and a long time coming. The journey complete, I helped her out and into the auto shop’s waiting room and waited for her daughter to arrive with the tow truck.
Just one month later… I would watch my sons be pallbearers at her funeral. The tears flowed as memories of a life long ago floated before me like white clouds on a summer’s day. I learned that even though she often referred to me as, “That Jason…”, she never followed it up with unkind words. In fact, I was told that she spoke very highly of me and was most grateful that I stopped to help her that day. A magnificent testament to the woman she was.
Sometimes… things can slip through seams that have come apart… and appear to be lost forever. But in reality, they can be found again.