I didn’t know my dad got married again until I received the card. Enclosed was a picture of him, his new wife, and her seven year old son, along with the marriage announcement. I was 36 years old and living in Germany at the time. I wouldn’t meet his fourth wife, Sharon, until I came home for my sister’s wedding later that same year, fifteen years ago.
(In case anyone is keeping score, dad’s first wife was my bio-illogical mother, his second wife was my mom, his third wife was a speed bump, and now we’re up to date)
I remember meeting Sharon for the first time. She was bright and bubbly, like the fizz of champagne. Since I was staying with her and dad, she was always making sure my needs were taken care of. As a career flight attendant for a major airlines (which is still in business), “can I get you anything” is part of who Sharon is. Today she is retired but service to others is what makes Sharon who she is.
After my sister’s wedding I didn’t see Sharon or anyone in my family for another two years. My ex-husband was in the Air Force and every three years we moved to another location. After our assignment in Germany, we moved to New Mexico. After a year in Albuquerque, my ex decided to end his Air Force career four years short of retirement. He asked me where I wanted to live. I told him I wanted to finish raising our daughters where I grew up. We moved to New Hampshire.
Dad and Sharon were gracious and let us live with them while we looked for a house. It didn’t matter that it was for a very short period of time. It didn’t matter that it was temporary. Sharon was Queen of her house and I was used to being Queen of my house. Two Queens under one roof….I think we grated on each other. I was used to doing things my way and she was used to doing things her way. Our ways weren’t always in sync. It didn’t help that my ex didn’t like her. He didn’t like other people all that much and in particular, he didn’t like anyone in my family. Turns out he didn’t like me either, but that’s another story. Long story short, Sharon and I tolerated each other. I was my dad’s daughter and she was my dad’s wife.
For the next three years I rarely spent time with my dad. We lived less than 10 miles from each other and I drove by his neighborhood almost every evening on my way home from work. Not a great way to build a relationship or get to know Sharon.
In fact, it took us about six years and a life altering event in my life to bring us together. When my ex walked out, my life turned upside down. On their way out of town one weekend in 2002, Sharon had my dad stop by my house. She gave me a book, The Angelspeake Storybook, by Barbara Mark and Trudy Griswold. At my lowest point an angel appeared in my life and her name was (and is) Sharon.
After years of tip toeing around each other, Sharon and I forged a friendship. She brought me to my first yoga class. She introduced me to the life philosophy teachings of Patanjali and Nichren Daishonen. She led me to my own self-awakening. A good thing because remember that speed bump I had? The big D word followed by the big C word? Divorce and Breast Cancer, fast on the heels of one another can wreck havoc on your pysche and while I had my moments of doubt and my coming to terms with my own mortality, the teachings & practice of yoga, which Sharon led me to, saved my life.
Like my mom and dad, Sharon was with me every step of the way through breast cancer. She came to my doctor appointments, she was with me for not one, not two, but all three surgeries. She was with me in yoga class. And after treatment, she literally walked every step of the way with me in the Susan G. Komen Boston 3 Day. Together we walked 60 miles and beyond. Sharon has logged a lot of mileage with me.
Sharon isn’t just my dad’s wife. She isn’t just my friend. She’s more than a stepmom (she hates that term, but she does mom things – so there), she’s a Bodhisattva, a living, breathing angel walking this plane of existence. I’d like to say she’s my personal angel, but that would be selfish. Sharon has made an amazing impact on my entire family. And she’s been such a blessing in my dad’s life.
Thank you Sharon. For all that you do and for all who you are. Happy Stepmother’s Day!