Tag Archives: partner

Reassurance

It has been an extraordinary few weeks in ways happy, joyful, excruciatingly sad and also mundane.  Two weeks ago yesterday was the sudden and unbelievably speedy death of a long-time acquaintance, a good, good woman who I always liked in a deep way, and who in much more recent years became the partner of a closer friend.  G’s death– rocked my partner’s and my world into stunned heartbreak.  Last week was the second half of a week of Shiva  (the observance of a week-long period of mourning), and saying Kaddish (the Jewish prayer of mourning), for the woman who died and of rolling up our sleeves and doing things that were needed– particularly for L, the surviving partner.  My partner and I were both profoundly saddened and scared by this death– and turned both inward and outward– in our sadness.  We stayed especially close to each other and to others too.

There are many things I am not good at, but one thing I am good at is knowing who is the clearest thinker in a given situation and knowing how to follow the lead of someone who is doing the right thing.  My working class partner is amazing at knowing how to roll up her sleeves and do the work that needs to be done.  She does this often and without fanfare or expectation of thanks (something that she can and often does overdo, to her own detriment) but I always follow her lead when she is doing the hard work and the hard work is the right thing to be doing.  So we sat Shiva and then visited with people and then we did dishes, packed up food, rearranged the refridgerator, the furniture, carried out trash and recycling and went home.  There is nothing quite like doing dishes and cleaning someone else’s kitchen in the face of a death– and I mean this, without the slightest bit of irony.

On the more happy side of the ledger–one night I brought my daughter with me to Shiva.  She was understandably a little afraid to be there with all these grieving adults, but she did something at the Shiva for my friend, the surviving partner of our lost friend– that touched me so deeply and made me smile, I kvelled inside and a little bit outwardly too– my big-hearted, big girl/little girl.

We are also excited and hopeful as we are planning for a visit, coming this weekend– at which my daughter and we will meet, for the first time, her younger sister.  One day last week was her sister’s birthday.  It was bedtime when I told my daughter that it was her sister’s birthday and she disappeared into her room.  After a while she returned– with a pristine stuffed panda, a gorgeous jeweled, sequined little box with a ring in it, and several other objects– and she said, “I need a box.”

So we wrapped them all up and packed them all up and sent them off to her as yet unmet sister.  Sister’s mom called me the other night either in tears or nearly in tears– I could not tell.  She said, “your daughter has a heart of gold.  It was like opening a box full of love.”  What could be more reassuring for a mom (this mom, me), than to hear another woman talk about her daughter that way?  She is right, and nothing, really, nothing could be more reassuring.

And finally, my daughter had an unusually busy weekend with a Friday afternoon middle school dance, a Friday overnight at our synagogue and a day full of activities at the synagogue on Saturday, a sleepover with a friend of hers at our home when she returned Saturday night and then off to Girl Scouts for several hours on Sunday, so I barely saw her.

I miss her when she is gone and I am slowly getting my mind around the idea of returning to doing certain things I love and enjoy that have not so much been part of my child-raising years.  My partner and I both had busy weekends and not mostly together.  But we made it a priority to take a long, late afternoon walk together on the closed-on-weekends road in our wonderful, large city park.  On our walk we came across this, the kind thought, the imagination of some other thoughtful walker, a message to us and all others passing by– which made me so happy– the finder of a lost red fleece glove stopping to send us all this word of reassurance.

Peace sign, red glove on sapling, February 10, 2013

Peace sign, red fleece glove on sapling, February 10, 2013.

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Tuesday & Wednesday–August 14-15

The days are so full and the iPhone is so small–I can do just these short daily entries with photos. I won’t write what I’ve been thinking about my (still somewhat new) job from here or about big, important issues of our times some of which have unfolded here in Wisconsin during the time of this trip. I will say I have had a good chance to get much closer to my hard-working sweetheart– a very good thing.

There is a County park on the Lake Michigan side which is thick pine forest at the edge with a beautiful white/ grey flat rock outcropping into a deeper and often bluer section of the lake. It is wilder, rougher than the parts of the shore where most of our time has been spent.

Tuesday we all caravanned there stopping at a farmers market on the way. Tuesday night we said goodbye to my sister and nephews and yesterday was a quieter day, with a visit for my mom and me to a weaver’s small gallery, a mothers (partner and me) and daughter bike ride, a little beach time all together and a bike ride home from the beach as the sun was setting– for just my partner and me while daughter and her grandmother drove home and cooked. And then dinner– with beautiful organic vegetables and cheese and my daughter’s (she’s quite a baker) cornbread. Forgive me if photos are out of order– still figuring out this WordPress iPhone application.

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Ocean beach. What does happy look like?

You chase waves and they chase back. Aug. 2010

Sister and brother. Aug. 2010

Braiding and securing without a hair tie. That bandana, now lost at sea! This was the braid I did before she decided to have me cut 6 inches of hair off. Aug. 2010

My gorgeous girl. The first one. Can you tell she loves a beach day? August 2010

Surf, after a storm. August 2010

The surf, the girl, the braid. August 2010

Sometimes you have only to look at your own photos, taken less than two weeks ago, to know that everything is really, really ok.  And it is.

Girls. Undefeated.

My partner has gotten little mention here.  And though she’s the kind of person who would gladly leave it at that, there is a lot to say.  About our shared motherhood and being lesbian mothers in our particular school, neighborhood, community.  About her.  About our long time together before we were parents together.  And about her important work before we ever met.  

But let’s start here.  She is a feminist.  And besides being a wonderful, stand-up, roll-up-her-sleeves- and- get- it- done kind of person who is very good to people and who is easily liked by people, she’s a jock.  Through and through.  I am not.  So when she came home a couple months ago and announced that she was going to assist S. who was coaching our 4th and 5th grade girls basketball team, I didn’t know where she was going to find the time, but I think I said, “great!” and barely looked up from some inconsequential thing I was doing. 

To be truthful, I continued to not pay much attention for awhile, except I knew it was a good thing for her to do.   As part of one of the public school reconfigurations a few years ago, our school added upper grades.  This girls’ basketball team is part of the very early phase of getting the athletic programs going for the older kids.   

The season has rolled along with my partner leaving work early and going to practices regularly on days that I cannot seem to keep straight in my head.  I talk to her often at the end of the day and ask “when are you leaving work?” and she often says “I’m gone, I’m at practice.”  News to me.  

Then the games started.  On game days my partner gets our daughter a little bit before school lets out and they go to get ready for the game.  I hear the reports after work.  “We won!”; “We won again!!”

My partner is simply happy and her eyes shine when she talks about how proud she is of the girls; how much she loves being their coach, playing a little herself, helping them figure out how to play, use their bodies and their minds and work as a team.  She loves this and I love her for loving this.  Yesterday I had to see for myself and went to school for a home game at the end of the day. 

We have a huge, cavernous gymnasium in a very old, grand and dilapidated school building.  I took a seat on one of the two-deep rows of folding chairs on the spectator side of the gym.  My daughter and her best friend were in the team seats on the other side of the gym– well not actually in the seats, but hopping around, jumping up and down, excited.  They help with the uniforms, water bottles and whatever is needed.   Next year they’ll be old enough to be on the team.   

The girls on our team are simply gorgeous and inspiring.  At this age they are all heights and sizes, from very small to near adult height and weight.  For a team that is still just coming together, with some who have never played before, they are remarkable in their focus, support of each other, cooperation.

When I walked in they were warming up.  My coach-partner and Coach S. were out there with them; both women shouting instruction, gesturing, patting them on the back, encouraging.  It’s all encouragement.  The acoustics in the gym are terrible, everything is cacophony– so there was a noisy, exciting atmosphere right from the start.  

The mothers were arriving to watch and cheer.  I know a lot of these moms, some I like more than others, but this was different.  All for one purpose; a group of women there to back their daughters.  It’s a woman’s thing, this effort. 

One woman; a mother in nice business clothes, whose face I recognize but who I’ve never met, came and sat down next to me and we introduced ourselves and talked a little.  Well shouted actually, although we were sitting next to each other.  She had her younger daughter and a friend with her but she was focused on the girls on the floor warming up.   

She said warmly, “you’re our coach’s partner, aren’t you?”  “Yes”, I said– “and she loves this” I said.  “Don’t get me wrong, life with her is good, but life at our house is so much better when she is coaching 4th and 5th grade girls’ basketball.” 

When the visiting team arrived, that mother looked at them, and then at me and said, “uh oh… they’re so much bigger than we are.”   Her daughter is the fearless point guard– literally about 2/3 the height and weight of many of the other girls.  I know that my partner is especially proud of that young girl’s fearless tenacity and she was, as the game unfolded, a sight to behold.  Jumping, waving, just  fiercely bothering anyone from the other team who had the ball while the opponent or the teammate she was passing to, towered above her.  Our girls are a terrific team, with our two women coaches and a phalanx of mothers backing the team. 

They defended, they passed, they shot, they shot again, they looked for each other and worked together and they got that first basket.  And then the next.  And the next after that and the next after that and they kept going.  I think the person managing the scoreboard stopped counting when the score was 34-4.  Yesterday was the fifth win of five games in the season. 

At the end of the game they were what you want for a daughter in this world — if not every single day, at least often enough so they don’t give up on themselves or each other.  Girls.  Undefeated.