In my spare time (very rare these days) I work on our genealogy. At one time I gathered all my information together and designed--and embroidered--a family tree, three feet by three feet, all tiny counted cross stitch. At the foot of the tree is a section I call the Gift Parent Garden. That's where all of the step-parents are recognized.
An acquaintance once asked me about that Gift Parent Garden. In my research down various highways and byways, I repeatedly came across step-parents who had raised numerous children not their own. In one case, a young woman of twenty three married a man with seventeen children and raised them plus her own three and then seven more that they had jointly.
Granted, that was in the 1870s and things are slightly different now, because in this day and age, there are many, many step-parents due to divorce rather than death. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean that they are less important or less valued.
My mother died when I was ten. I was the oldest of the four children she left behind. About a year later my father presented us with a "new" mother. I'll freely admit that we were a handful. Any woman who would take on the wild bunch and turn us into a reasonably civilized group of young adults had to have a strong will, infinite patience, and eventually an overflowing well of love.
Last Tuesday my stepmother turned seventy-nine. She and my father have been married forty-six years. She's the only grandmother my children have known. My grandchildren call me Nanna and they call her GrandNanna.
I called her on her birthday and we talked for a while. We live far apart but our hearts are close. The memories flow over us, memories of other times and other places. Before I go to bed at night I thank God for the woman he sent to us--our Gift Parent.
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