In Sweet Company

[Archeologist ] Marija Gimbutas used to say that the heart of the goddess is transformative energy, the same energy that turns the seed into the plant, the tadpole into a frog, the cocoon into a butterfly. In ancient times, these animals were sacred because their transformation illustrates what life is really about. It seems to me that how we understand transformation and how it exists in our lives is also a big part of spirituality … if we have the courage to claim that kind of knowing.” — Olympia Dukakis, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE

Thirty one years ago this week, I married my Prince Charming. We became a blended family; my two daughters and I merged with my husband and his passion for green shirts, sour cream, and jets. I took half his name, he took half my closet space. I got the towns’ most eligible bachelor; he got three strong women, a rabbit, and a parakeet.

Signing my new name was a lot like being in high school and forging my mother’s handwriting on an excuse to get out of gym class. It took months before I could create a signature I felt comfortable with. I settled on a version that connects the last letter of my first name with the first letter of my last name in one grand and sweeping loop. It’s symbolic of how I’ve come to view our relationship and our family.

Though I started over in a new marriage, there were always more than the four of us at the dinner table. We were wedded to Ghosts of Families Past — the phantasmagoria of an ex-husband and old loves — to Ghosts of Families Present — the expectations that dance ’round hearts brimming with new love — and to Ghosts of Families Future — the hope of the easy, leather glove fit you see in families who grow old together over time and experiences that challenged our patience, uprooted our fears, and tested our love.

Like most families, mother-daughter relationships, and couples, we’ve had our good times and we’ve been rattled to the core. When I read the stories about Lindsay Lohan and the tell-all books written by Katy Perry and Jennifer Aniston’s moms, and Hollywood marriages gone sour in between movie takes, I am grateful. In our thirty-one years together, we dined on the light and the dark meat of life, and we are better people for having survived it

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