Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Blurring the Line Between Step & Bio

It's Monday and the phone rings. Caller ID reveals the familar phone number. It's lunchtime and my Stepmom is calling. I am nursing The Mouse so I let her call go to voicemail. Later when I listen to her message I hear the familair script:
Hi, it's me. Just checking in. I was eating lunch and thinking about you so thought I would call to see how your weekend was... blah, blah, blah.
She ended the message as she usually does promising she would call me back again when she has a free minute.
Her boss does not like her to make or receive personal phone calls so I do not call her back to avoid getting her in trouble with the asshole.
It's Tuesday and the phone rings again. I cannot get to the phone to see who it is. It's only later when I check voicemail that I see She called again. Again it's during her lunch time. Again she leaves the same message and let's me know she will call again when/if she gets the chance.
It's not unusual for us to play this kind of phone tag. She knows I cannot always get to the phone. I know it's risky if I call her. Her messages do not give me any indication that anything might be wrong.
It's Wednesday. Late morning. I am blogging avoiding housework near the phone when it rings. Caller ID lets me know it's my Stepmom again. I pick up.
Our conversation begins as the usually do.
How are the kids. Is The Boy enjoying preschool. What are your plans for the weekend.
She then tells me The News.
Her mother has been "in a coma" since Sunday.
She developed some kind of virus is on oxygen and antibiotics and has been unresponsive since Sunday afternoon. My Stepmom has been to see her every day in the nursing home since then (this is not much of a stretch as she usually sees her Mother every other day) and she tells me that she thinks her Mom is dying and won't be around much longer.
I am taken slightly aback by this news and find I am a little insulted that she waited three days to tell me. That she did not give me any indication in her messages that there was anything going on.
She knows you're busy with the Baby and she probably didn't want you to worry. My Mother tries to reassure me.
Don't get upset at her. Her heart is in the right place.
Whenever there was an illness or death on the biological side of my family, my Mother would always call me immediately. No matter what time of day or night. Messages would be left if she could not reach me right away. That's how my family operates. When one of our own is sick or has passed we rally around each other for support and comfort. We don't think of ourselves or that it might be inconvenient. Our place is with our family. Period.
The idea of familial obligation seems foreign to my Stepmom. At least when it comes to me and my relationship with her Mother who is for all intents and purposes my StepGrandmother, my kids' GreatGrandmother whom they affectionately refer to as "Granny" just as I did with my own GreatGrandmother.
My Stepmom has been my Family from the moment she came into my life vis-a-vis my Dad. I have known her and her Mom since I was 7. I am now 36.
Yet despite this she never expects or assumes that I will be available for birthdays and always seemed genuinely touched when I "made time" for her or her Mom.
It's nice to know that spending time with me is appreciated but this expression of gratitude also keeps me at arm's length emotionally. Drawing an imaginary line in the sand between Step and Bio.
My StepGrandmother passed away last Friday. I never got to see her one last time.
There was no wake. The Funeral was yesterday morning.
Again my Stepmom made no familial assumptions. And was genuinely touched when I told her I would be there.
Oh you're so busy with the kids. Are you sure?
That's what Family is all about I try to tell her. This is where I belong.
There were 10 people at my StepGrandmother's funeral.
My Mother was one of them.
The lines between Step and Bio were blurred for that day. We all rallied around my Stepmom for comfort and support. Our place was with our Family.


Dolfinnlover said...

I am sorry to hear about your loss. I am glad you were around your SM in trying times... my prayers are with you and your family.

Kat said...

That post really made me stop and think - which is a very good thing. I'm so sorry for your loss.

stepblog said...

Wow. This is now like the sixth post of yours that has made me well up. This isn't just a step / bio thing. My own mother does me like this all of the time.