August 06, 2011

The Welcome Mat

For the past 22 years my father was married to a woman who, for the most part was good to us, but sadly due to her insecurities could never fully embrace us kids as hers.  Oh I know she tried.  She was handy with a needle and thread and she'd whip out a cross stitched bookmark for your child's baptism in nothing flat.  She'd also give you a framed cross stitch work of art with your child's birthday and birth weight when you had a new baby.  I always felt a bit awkward accepting these treasures she'd created because to me it seemed a bit like her proof that she was being good to us hanging there on the nursery wall, but the actions she showed didn't quite match up.  She had a wicked tongue and never held back criticism.  Sad but true.

My Step mother passed away last summer and about 6 months later my Dad re-married.  The good news is that this time he married a real gem.  I have been hearing stories of her settling into the house and making changes that to me, represent her spreading out the welcome mat.  When I recently visited I was able to see for myself.  She turned one of the downstairs bedrooms into a 'teenager hangout' with good books and movies to watch (almost all VHS... awesome!)  there is a desk with paper and markers to do artwork.  She pointed out some career choice books to my 17yr old who is thinking about his future a lot lately.  So nice. The best part of the room is a large white fur rug that she will suggest you take your shoes and socks off and walk on.  So plush!  And so not something JoAnn would have done.  Thelma is just fun.  I was touched as she showed me where she re-hung our family photos back on the walls.  They were taken down after my mother passed and placed in a dark corner of the house on the floor to collect dust.

We went out for Chinese food with my parents and here is just another example of her desire to please.  Big Boy wanted to order the soup.  He also had a hankering for some orange chicken, so he asked me to order it so he could taste some from my plate.  I was still full from our pizza lunch at The Pie in Salt Lake earlier so I told him I would be ordering light.  I ordered a side dish.  When Thelma caught on to the situation (late in the ordering) she jumped out of her seat and rushed back to the kitchen to change her order to orange chicken so that my son could get some.  My Dad protested but she insisted.  It was a good thing too, because he hated his soup.  I was super touched.

Yes- I'd say the welcome mat is officially out.


Cherie said...

Your first paragraph floored me because my Father-in-law remarried 9 years ago after being single since my husband was 4 - so alot of years. Your first paragraph describes his wife to a CAPTIOL T!!
Oh my gosh. Crazy. At first no one saw it but me but over the years her colors have become known to all but my poor father-in-law.

Oh well.

I was so happy to hear that your dad married, what sounds like, a really wonderful woman who is sensitive to maybe what came before and interested in keeping a family together and becoming a part of it. How wonderful!

Kelly said...

Sadly your father in law probably does see it but is stuck in a situation where he can't admit it since he has to live with his choice. My Dad would on rare occasion stick up for us kids but mostly he knew where is bread was buttered.... So sad because there was so much potential for good there.

Good luck to you!

Rachel said...

What a wonderful blessing! Sounds like she has tried her best to make everyone feel welcome!

kati said...

I LOVE THELMA! Grandpa really did marry great! funny how I now look forward to going up there!

M-Cat said...

So interesting because my mother married a man a couple of years ago. he had cared for his ailing wife for years and his daughter didn't take to my mom well at all. In fact, I still haven't even met his daughter. I give my mom credit though, she has changed nothing about their home. All the first wife's decorating is still there. And it's awful! But my mom is being respectful and leaving it.

I think that shows class - and it sounds like Thelma is full of it!