As most of my "faithful" readers know, my husband Greg passed away in May of 2008. And now my status - it IS, after all, official since it IS on Facebook - is "in a relationship". My significant other and I both have strong personalities and can both have some blockheaded views but we are working on those. These sentences are just to lay the groundwork for my little tale...
A few weeks ago I received an invitation to a 50th birthday party in the Cities (Twin Cities, for those of you not from this area -- Mpls/St. Paul) for the youngest of Greg's cousins, D. I have seen this family only once since Greg died, when they graciously included me in a family birthday party for those with July birthdays, in July of 2008. It was hard for me - they were very solicitous, and the mother of the cousins (sister of my late mother-in-law) made some comments that she probably thought were kind, but they instead made me tear up. She is a lovely, kind lady and in no way intended to evoke those tears, I am sure.
(As usual, I digress. Maybe I should rename my blog, "I digress". Or "Off on a tangent".)
So I told L about the party and that I intended to go. I know he was hesitant about this, meeting the "cousins in-law", but he did agree to go with me.
The party was held in a tent in the back yard of Greg's cousin C (brother of D) and his wife B. Both great folks - good senses of humor, wonderful hosts, and I have known them for years. I think they were married a couple of years following my wedding, so about 23 years for their marriage now. We did not know that D had not informed her brother C that I was coming to this party - only that a "mystery" guest was attending. So when L and I walked in the door, they were surprised. And we were greeted warmly. Of course, L was a bit "stand-offish", as most would be under the circumstances. But that quickly changed as folks started talking with him - cousin C is an avid, and very GOOD golfer, and since L is trying to improve his game, they were off and running on that topic.
It was so good for me to see these cousins - C is the oldest, then the sisters, C, C and D follow - and one of the sisters brought their mother, Aunt M, and it was good to see her under better (for me) circumstances. There was plenty of wine (brother C is a wine afficionado) and they cooked up probably 10 or 12 entire beef tenderloins on the grill. We were well-fed, pleasantly so.
Brother C gave L his seal of approval, since L and he had traded jibes back and forth several times throughout the afternoon and evening. And Aunt M told me in confidence before she headed for her own home, "You have my approval." And then added, "Not that you need it..." Very sweet of her to say so.
My sister, who had been widowed about 6 years by the time she paired up with her guy, presented him to her brothers- and sister-in-law (those who were living in this area at the time). Now THAT has to be intimidating -- the direct blood relatives of her late husband! Needless to say, that also went well. So I feel blessed (and I am sure that Sis also does) that these meet-ups went well. I have heard countless tales of in-laws who resented the fact that the widow/widower of their child had the audacity to date again. Or a brother or sister of the deceased feels slighted by that same activity.
My husband's only surviving blood relative is his brother. And I believe he would be accepting of L -- but this brother is NOT one to keep in contact with his family, including the above-mentioned cousins. And I have not been in phone contact with him in some time, although I do occasionally talk with his current wife AND his former wife, both wonderful women. My direct in-laws are not a factor, since my father-in-law died in March of 2008, just months before Greg himself died. I am in contact with HIS wife (second wife - Greg's mother died in 1992) and she and I get along well, speaking on the phone several times during the year. She knows all about L, as we have conversed about him (and myself) several times. She is as supportive of me as if I were her own daughter.
All of this prattling on, just to tell you that "they liked him, they REALLY liked him" - to paraphrase Sally Fields in her Oscar-winning acceptance speech. If they had not taken to him, I know that I would still be with L. But it gives me a good feeling, knowing that Greg's side of the family does like him. And it's a weight off my shoulders that I was not even previously aware that I had been carrying. Other widows/widowers can certainly relate, I am sure.
Peace and hugs, y'all.