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Almost a Mom, Almost a Grandma, Almost a Family, Almost
by Marijo Phelps
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My husband, the Tour Guide mentions Wednesday that he bought a new tent. This means that we now are the proud owners of 5 or 6 tents. Yes, the small one leaks. This new one is to replace that tent. He got it on sale for half price and by the way, would I like to test it out this weekend. He will be home at 3 on Friday and hopes to take off when he hits the driveway.

I scrambled. We left at 3 on Friday for parts north in Colorado. The tree kill is tragic but that’s not what I am writing about. After four hours of driving we are looking for a camping spot. We find ourselves in the land of sage brush, everywhere, the one to three foot variety, not tent-land. Soon it is way after eight, darkness is coming on – I spot a grassy field, yes, it is private property with a ranch house on it.

“Hey there goes a snake across the road…”

“Are we in a rattle snake area?” That fear was sneaking up on me.

“Nah, I didn’t see any rattles on its tail”

Right, we are going 40 miles an hour and he can “see” the tail in twilight… that’s my Tour Guide, the man I love more with each year, in spite of his casual attitude about snakes.

We finally find a trailhead with a picnic table and fire ring, manage to put up the tent in the dusk without reading the instructions, never mind some of the grass was waist high. The wildflowers were gorgeous, at least those we could actually see in the full moon light.

The Tour Guide is asleep immediately with gentle snores confirming. I am on a lump that lists to the right, trying to keep from rolling off into the middle of the 8 foot tent. Then I began to think. I might add here that ever since I was a toddler I have been known to “think” when I should be sleeping.

My heart was captured 25 years ago by a 2 ½ year old toddler. I worked with his adoptive parents, my desk was near the snacks in the office. This little guy and I would play “air plane” as I flew him down the hall. I can’t tell you the times I wiped chocolate off his hands and face. I actually got to know the toddler before his “bio dad” and I became an item, got engaged and married. We knew the adoptive parents well. We all decided when he asked about his biological parents, he would be told who they were.

The years have flown by. I have never gotten pregnant. We have kept in touch with the adoptive parents and now have photos of three beautiful granddaughters; two little blue eyed blonds and one blue eyed red head. Two are in foster care and one is with her biological mother.

The last time my hubby saw his son was when he was 3 ½ years old. I was blessed to have an “accidental” half hour with him when he was twelve. He showed up at my friend’s house, with her children, when I was visiting. We talked baseball. He had no idea that I was his step mother as he hadn’t yet asked about his biological parents, even though he knew he was adopted.

I am thinking about all of this in the tent that night. The son of my heart now had a cell block as part of his address. The granddaughters all have pretty tragic stories of their own at the tender ages of 3, 5 and almost 7.

The drops began. If they were rain maybe we could have seen how waterproof this new tent is. As it turns out they are coursing down my cheeks. I never got the chance to have ”step” for my first name. Believe me, I would have done everything in my power to change the image of that handle. No, my first name has become “almost”, almost a mom, almost a grandma, almost a family, almost.
At least my husband is asleep tonight in this beautiful mountain campsite. I try to quiet my heart and my emotions as I think once again of what might have been, if the choices of those I love or those I would covet the chance to love, had been different.

Is this a fiction piece? Sometimes I think it would be easier if it were.

(C) Marijo Phelps all rights reserved. Use with proper credits.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Verna Mull  11 Aug 2010
Marijo, this is heartrending and so well written. It filled my heart with tears. At least you have one thing in your favor. You never had the child and lost him. Now there is a little self-pity, but I don't mean it that way. It just has a ring of truth to me, but I still have one child and beautiful grandchildren and greats, so I really can't know exactly how you feel. God bless you and keep you. Love you.


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