Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Just like that.
I still keep the phone bill that has our last phone call on it. We didn't talk often...maybe once a month. When we finally connected, we would talk for hours. I really mean HOURS. I know because my husband would sometimes look at the bill and say, "Who the heck did you talk to for 128 minutes?" I would laugh and not even have to check the number because I knew it was Gina. That's how we would catch up.
We took turns discussing motherhood mostly. Our husbands, our families, us too. We'd pick up right where we left off and just discuss back and forth. We had children the same years, got married the same age, had the same amount of siblings and just so much in common.
Sometimes we would laugh about high school and gossip about any new information we heard. I begged her to go to our high school reunion to learn more but she wouldn't. Why? Because she said she was still embarrassed that when she got prom queen she cried. She would say, "How stupid is that?" Well, back then, not so much, I would tell her. "No one even saw you cry!" I would say, and we would laugh. Now, after losing her father, her sister, and having her second child born with Down's...yes, it seems silly. But at 17, just a girl, she deserved to cry tears of happiness over something so lame...she would need to cry many tears over the next years as the hurdles life threw her.
This past year I have thought of her every single day.
Gina set the highest standards for being a wife and mother.
She absolutely judged herself on how clean her house was, how neat and put together her children looked, their behavior, her appearance, and how much she gave of herself as a mother, wife, nurse, sister, and daughter.
So much of what I read and hear about that last sentence I wrote is supposed to be wrong. We are supposed to give ourselves a break, let loose, not care, just do our best, compromise along the way.
Well I'm here to tell you...I knew a girl who lived by the highest ideals. I can vouch for the fact that Gina never told a lie, never hurt a soul, never said a mean comment, never was anything but kind to everyone. Her husband adored her. Her kids...the kindest children ever. She took so much pride in every role she had here on earth, and she did each of them to the highest standard possible. And she did it all humbly and quietly. She never thought for a moment she was exceptional and would beg to differ if you told her she was.
When everything around us now, all the principles, the expectations, the importance of motherhood and marriage, values and morals, being compromised, so many excuses, so many ways to avoid the hard stuff in life, and so little old-fashioned, beautiful ideals being lost in past generations, I will always, always remember I witnessed first hand, through Gina, that is possible to set the bar high and reach it, gracefully.