I never put this on the blog and just sent it to the recipe testers. The email that immediately followed it is this one http://themailifiles.blogspot.com/2009/04/pimiento-cheese-barbecue-lobster.html they are meant to be read together.

March 3, 2009

My husband’s biological mother, Judy Brocke, passed away an hour ago in Texas. She had brain cancer and we knew she was dying for sometime. We all went to see her in January to say goodbye.

It was a unique relationship because she didn’t raise Jason. I first met her when she came to Jason’s graduation from West Point. I had only known him six weeks. Because I love and adore my husband it was so hard for me to imagine how a mother could leave her son. She left him at kindergarten and didn’t come back. It seemed impossible to think of, but I knew he had a better life being raised by his father, Jim, and mother, Marianne (in their family they never use the word step-mother because Marianne became Jason’s mother and Jonathan and Jennifer became his brother and sister. Jonathan and Jennifer are Jason’s favorite gifts from his father’s marriage to Marianne. Those three siblings are incredibly close.)

Judy was always like a very distant relative. We didn’t really see her. We kept in closer touch with her sister, Aunt Diana. There were times, years even when we were inHawaii, when we didn’t know where Judy was.

Judy had a lot of challenges in her life. But as she neared 60 she truly did try to turn her life around. And seemed to be on the right track with a new job and new life.

She had never met our girls. We spend all of our holidays, birthdays, etc. between my parents in California and Jason’s parents in Indiana. When my girls were in first and second grade we bought Judy a plane ticket to fly out for her birthday to meet the girls for the first time. The second time she my girls (now 10 and 11) was in January inTexas. But she did send the girls cards and so they felt like there was just another person out there that loved them.

For me, I think I got angrier with her after I had children. Being a parent is really hard. I felt like if I was making sacrifices in my life for my kids that she should have made for Jason. I felt like I made some of the hardest decisions of putting my kids before my career and gave up a lot of things to devote my time to my children. Of course, the gift I thought I was giving to them, turned out to be a gift to me instead. I can’t believe my baby is 10 and that I only have a few short years with my girls before they are gone. I can’t seem to spend enough time with them. So while I love and appreciate my kids more by the minute, I got angrier with Judy for not making those changes in her own life for Jason and for herself. And then I got frustrated with her being needy of Jason and both of us as she got older. I already feel overwhelmed sometimes in my personal life with all the relatives we have and all the birthdays and things we attend. I barely have time to talk to my own mother as much as I want to with our busy homeschooling lives, so I certainly didn’t have time to talk to Judy.

Judy started calling Jason more when she found out she had brain cancer two years ago. But I must point out again, that she made some decisions to turn her life around before she got the cancer. She was already in a much better place when she got the lung cancer that turned to brain cancer. So I feel happy that she overcame the challenges of her past and was making a brighter life for herself.

Near the end Jason has been very dutiful. He has called her everyday. He took over all the responsibility for all of the bills and details of everything at this stage of her life. He’s had some long talks with Aunt Diana. When you are a child whose parent left, you always wonder if the decision was selfless or selfish. Almost every parent who gives an infant up for adoption is generally acting selflessly out of the best interest of the child. They know they can’t take care of the child from the minute they are pregnant and plan for an adoption. They end up giving the child and the new parents an incredible gift. In this situation, Jason was five. So there was the wonder if Judy left him out of kindness or selfishness. Jason had a long talk with Diana last week. Diana said that at the time Judy left Jason she wasn’t able to take care of herself. So it would have been impossible for her to care for a child. When years had passed and Judy was getting to a place where she might possibly be able to care for Jason, she knew Jason had a wonderful life in Indiana with his parents and it would be selfish of her to try to take him back or share custody.

Later in life, Judy was lonely and missed Jason. So in the end, this sweet and dear boy, can know that his mother did love him to the best of her ability. She loved him with the greatest capacity that she had. She struggled with loving herself for so long that there wasn’t a lot left for Jason. She was very proud of him.

Through this Jason has done the right thing, but he hadn’t cried about what was happening. He’s felt badly for Judy and he has been dutiful. We planned beforehand that the girls and I would go see Judy in January while she was still living. Then when she died we planned that Jason’s father would fly down from Indiana and meet Jason inTexas for the memorial there. Then Jason will bring her ashes back to California and we will distribute her ashes here because she said she wanted to be near us. When Aunt Diana found out Jim was planning to come with Jason to the memorial she said “You’re father was always a good man.” It was these words about Jason’s father that made Jason cry. It was these words that took him fifteen minutes just to tell me. Because in the end, giving birth doesn’t make someone a parent: A parent is someone who is there and who goes to all the games and helps you with your homework and makes sure you have a cake on your birthday. Parents are there. And Jason’s Dad was always there for him and that’s what made him cry. And his mother Marianne was always there for him. And they have always been there for my girls too. When Marianne’s father, Coach, first met Melissa he said “Now my life is complete, I have a great-granddaughter.” There is no blood relationship between Coach and Melissa, but he was as proud as any great-grandparent could ever be. That’s how much love Jason was given from Marianne’s entire extended family. So Judy gave Jason the better life letting him be surrounded by all of those people who loved him.

I feel like I made my peace with Judy. I gave up my anger because it was pointless. I understand that she did the best that she could do. That she loved Jason as much as she could possibly love someone, but that taking care of him wasn’t where her strength was. I saw Jason do everything he could for her. I admire her sisters for taking care of her round the clock at the end of her life. I admire the grandparents, 87 and 88, who took care of Judy for the last three months. I am glad that she died surrounded by people who loved her. I am glad she gave birth to my husband so that I could marry him. I will be eternally grateful for that. And I’m glad she let him have a better life than she could have given him. I am glad she found peace and happiness at the end of her life.

Peace be with all of you,

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
St. Francis


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