About 10 years ago, J. became the assistant coach for a group of wonderful, skilled, determined, and strong teenage girls. Ill equipped to be team psychologist since I knew nothing about softball, I sat in the bleachers and cheered, hopefully at the right times. (The parents and other coaches’ wives mentored me.) Through this experience, J. developed strong bonds with her fellow coaches and with these young women, as “team” evolved into “community”. I was fortunate enough to marry into the group.
These athletes went on to win a National Championship, and, as happens with age, to grow up. They went to university, many on scholarship, and are now establishing themselves as successful professionals. Doomsayers’ predictions about this generation are not relevant here; these women are hard-working and self-supporting, and they are decent and kind. Without question, these women are more mature and grounded than I was at their age. Had J. and I procreated, we’d hope our children would be just like them. Since we didn’t, we are just happy to have them in our lives.
Part of growing up is getting married, which two of these girls did over the past two weekends, to wonderful young men. We were invited to the festivities and we enjoyed catching up with everyone.
It’s hard to describe what these women mean to us, but here’s my best example: Soon after my leukemia diagnosis, the group rallied to the rescue by assembling a lovely care package, a basket filled with delicious homemade meals and other caring, thoughtful gifts. (No small feat when you consider some of them don’t cook!) The tables had certainly started turning. The kids were becoming the caregivers.
Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised, then, by the warmth these women showed us during these recent reunions, including their caring questions about my health. Yes, the elephant often comes up, even on happy occasions. Thankfully, I could report how well I had been. But somehow one discussion shifted ahead to that time when I might not be doing as well, and I said: “I’m trusting you’ll take care of J. when I’m gone.” Yes, we were at a happy celebration and I made all three of us cry. This sentiment is not one I voice often to myself or to J., let alone to anyone else. But this lovely young woman, without skipping a beat, gave J. a hug and said: “Don’t worry. We’ll take care of Momma.”
And you know what? I believe she will, I believe they all will, because that’s just the kind of people they are, just like their parents and their coaches. Yet another reminder of how blessed we are to be surrounded by such incredible support. Their sense of caring for others runs especially deep, as J. and I know. They are great friends, and they will be great life partners and some day even great mentors for the next generation. We are so lucky to be part of this enduring “chain of love”, the principle on which this amazing community was founded.