Living Happily Ever After


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Lemonade That’s Real

“We are living in a world today where lemonade is made from artificial flavors and furniture polish is made from real lemons.” (Alfred Newman)

When my ex-husband went to prison, I told him I hoped he used the time to learn what he needed to learn; to grow and change in the ways he needed to; and that I hoped he chose to make the best of the experience, whatever it might be. In other words, make lemonade. Even in prison.

I LOVE lemonade, but it’s also how I believe in living life. However, the fact it has to be easier said than done in prison is not lost on me. I knew what I was asking of him. So lest I have painted too rosy a portrait of prison, let me share some reality.

About his environment he wrote, “This is such a harsh place. There is nowhere to go for peace. Nowhere to be alone or even escape the constant barrage of foul language. Just for kicks one day I decided to count the number of cuss words I heard in a single hour–I stopped at 1200! It is a daily onslaught from which there is no escape. I think we have every kind of degenerate scum bag in this place. Every day I wake up refreshed, feeling clean, and by the end of the day I feel like I just can’t take the filth any more. A deputy summed it up this way: ‘I view my pay not as income, but as worker’s compensation, because every time I come through that door I feel millions of brain cells commit suicide.’ It’s the shallow end of the gene pool to be sure but there are a few gems in here, and I consider myself to be blessed with the friends I have here.”

Rather than dwell on the negative, I was happy to see he focused on his daily routine and tried to make the best of his situation. He kept busy exercising, playing games, tutoring men for the G.E.D., reading, writing, making friends and trying to make the most of his incarceration. Not bad lemonade, especially for prison.

“When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. I have several stands around here.” (James Brady)

You can make lemonade wherever you are. All you need is lemons (abundant in the challenges and trials of life), water (which is everywhere) and a little sugar supplied by you–the way you choose to look at things and rise above them, the blessings you acknowledge and are grateful for, the positive things you focus on and the happiness you choose to create from your fruit regardless of where it comes from.

Make the best of what you have, regardless of how sour it is, and somewhere along the way the bitterness is overpowered by the sweet. It happens every time.


The First 24 Hours

“The beauty, the poetry of the fear in their eyes. I didn’t mind going to jail for, what, five, six hours? It was absolutely worth it.” (Johnny Depp)

Jail. According to Hollwood, criminals get to make a phone call. But I never got one that day from the only criminal I’ve ever known: my ex-husband. He told me later, “I didn’t call anyone with my call. I couldn’t remember your number. I just froze.”

He sent a letter to my children and educated us about his new life and summed it up by saying, “Well, I finished my first 24 hours in jail and…I don’t recommend it!”

He had spent seven hours on a concrete bench waiting to go to the Evaluation Mod, a medium security block/area: a 7 x 12 room with a combination sink and toilet and two mats–for two men. The men were released from the cell three hours each day and could use the time to watch t.v. or shower.

“Locks reset every hour, so it is very loud. The first time I heard it I thought someone shot a gun. It goes on all night, 24/7. They don’t shut the lights off, so you sleep in the light.”

He was later moved to a minimum security Mod: one big room with 64 beds on one side, a large common area with two 24″ t.v.s (but the men have to purchase headphones to listen to the t.v.) Also in the room were six round stainless steel tables with attached metal stools, with a chess/checker board etched into the top (but the men have to purchase the game pieces.) Breakfast was served at 5 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. Breakfast consisted of a hard boiled egg, “mystery meat” and a biscuit. Lunch was a piece of pastrami, a chunk of “smelly black bread,” a cookie and orange jello. Dinner was chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy and mixed vegetables.

He spent a lot of time describing his new life for one reason. “I want to make sure you guys know what can happen if you mess up and don’t take care of it. I don’t get to make many choices. I get to choose to eat or not to eat and when to shower. Everything else is chosen for me. I am all alone. In a cage.”

I have a new perspective on prison: “Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.”

I’ve seen for myself that life goes on, even on “the inside.” You simply have to choose to live it. Whatever you’re handed, wherever you are.

The Look of Love

“When your world is full of strange arrangements
And gravity won’t pull you through
You know you’re missing out on something…
Yes one thing that turns this gray sky to blue
That’s the look, that’s the look, the look of love…
Who’s got the look? I don’t know the answer to that question.
Where’s the look? if I knew I would tell you
What’s the look? look for your information…
That’s the look, that’s the look, the look of love…
That’s the look, that’s the look, Be lucky in love
Look of Love.”
(ABC, “The Look of Love” lyrics, by Martin Fry, David Palmer, Steve Singleton, and Mark White)

I danced to that song in the 80s. And I guess I took “the look” for granted. I assumed everyone looked at their love with “the look of love.” It took my unexpected life to show me that isn’t always the case.

Just prior to my entire world falling apart, I saw the first of the “Twilight” movies and was particularly struck by the way Edward looked at Bella. I don’t know if everyone else noticed it, but I sure did, and it made me feel a little crazy: forty-something woman struck by the way an actor portraying a vampire simply LOOKED at another character in a story geared toward teenage girl fantasies and dreams of love and romance! I didn’t know why I noticed that specific aspect of the fictional relationship and why it had such an impact on me. Until March 18, 2009.

That day my then-husband, Shawn Merriman, sat me down and shattered my world. To anyone just joining us, that was the day he revealed his investment company, Market Street Advisors, was “a sham;” that he had been running a Ponzi scheme for 15 years; that he had already turned himself in to government authorities and anticipated being charged with crimes in the next week and incarcerated within the next 30 days for approximately the next 5-7 years; that all of our assets, money, home, vehicles and possessions had been seized by the government; and that I would be left alone to parent, provide for, and raise our four children.

That was also the day I realized why I found Edward’s intense look at Bella so compelling.

As part of his confession, my then-spouse expressed the guilt and shame he had lived with during the entire course of his Ponzi scheme. He felt so bad about what he had done, and so guilty, he said it became difficult for him to even look at me. “I haven’t looked you in the eye in years,” he revealed.


I argued with that. We had laughed, talked, joked, communicated and discussed things, ate dinner together, prayed together, interacted on a daily basis and lived as a happy, loving couple, married and raising our family for 20 years. He had looked at me all of the time! At least I’d thought he had. It seemed like he had. I was about to learn Shawn Merriman’s biggest deception of all relative to his life of crime.

It wasn’t the lies he’d told day in and day out, as he’d come home from work and report the usual business-related events of the day like all husbands do, conversations he’d had with this person or that client, stocks he had bought or sold. I found out he hadn’t bought or sold any stocks in years.

It wasn’t the fraudulent monthly statements he created and mailed to every investor, including me, each month. I found out he made all of those up.

It wasn’t the hypocrisy he exemplified to our children and the rest of the world, preaching one way of living and secretly choosing to practice another.

It was the way he had looked at me. Or intentionally had not looked at me.

He explained, “No, you only THINK I’ve looked at you. But I haven’t. Not once. I have looked at the tip of your nose every single time I’ve looked at you, and when I do that, you think I’m looking at you and can’t tell I’m not looking at you, but I promise you, I haven’t looked in your eyes in years.”

How long?

Most of our children had been born during the years he hadn’t looked me in the eye. I couldn’t count the number of events we’d shared, the memories we’d made and the daily expressions of love he had uttered to me…all while never looking at me. And I’d never even seen it. I had never known.

How could I not have been able to see that my husband was looking only at the tip of my nose instead of my eyes? How did no one else notice he didn’t look them in the eye either? And actually, how did I never know there were people out there who intentionally didn’t look people in the eye?

In a way, it was a fitting end to a relationship that came to a screeching halt due to crime, betrayal and other wrongs perpetrated by one man.

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” (Gilda Radner)

Random Strangers

“What is it that makes a complete stranger dive into an icy river to save a solid gold baby? Maybe we’ll never know.” (Jack Handy)

Ok. I’m going to sound old here, but “back in the day” (one year ago) when I was operating in absolute shock mode, simply trying to get through each day, one at a time, as I adjusted to the unexpected life that was mine, and while I was waiting and worrying about a miracle for my son, I got a small one for myself.


A local grocery store, Macy’s, was having a case lot sale. I went and stocked up on some food items for my little family at a bargain price. It was Saturday night, I was newly divorced and couldn’t help but think what a loser I was to have a shopping trip as my only plan, the big thrill, for the evening. As I walked into the store, I was sure every other customer knew I was single, knew my shame (why I was single), and was staring at me.

When I finished, as I walked out the door pushing my grocery cart piled high with cases of canned food, a man driving by in his car called out a comment to me, ridiculing me for my purchases. I couldn’t believe it! In all the years I had grocery shopped in Denver, no one had ever commented on my purchases or made fun of me for the amount of items in my cart. It was only after I had moved to Utah, the land of family and food storage, that I was ridiculed.

I walked to my car feeling so dumb.

I was embarrassed.

And believe it or not, my emotional state hung in such a delicate balance one year ago, that my feelings were actually hurt by that stupid comment from a thoughtless stranger.

I wanted to cry out, “I’m just a single mother trying to feed her children!”

Or, “Believe me, buddy, I already know what a loser I am–I don’t need your help and encouragement!”

But I tried not to think about it as I fought back tears, opened the trunk of my car and began to unload my cart in the parking lot. I was grateful it was dark so no one would see me, the biggest loser among all women, married or single, crying like an idiot in the dark while she unloaded her shopping cart.

I felt more alone than anyone else in the parking lot.

I wondered how I was going to get through the rest of the weekend, the next week and the rest of my life feeling as I felt. Instead of feeling rejuvenated by the weekend and able to face the coming week, I was crushed.

And then, out of the darkness, and without a word, a man was standing beside me, helping me unload my cart. He didn’t really say anything while he unloaded everything into my car, but as he handed me the last case, he paused for just an instant and smiled at me. It was dark, but I was struck by his beautiful, clear light eyes as he looked into mine and smiled. And then he got into his old, dark-colored SUV parked next to mine, that I hadn’t noticed until that moment, and drove away.

I stood there. I watched him drive away, my burden so much lighter from our encounter. I marveled at such kindness from a stranger, especially on the heels of exactly the opposite experience from another one.

He was probably just some nice man, a former Boy Scout, doing what he does for everyone, for me, that night. But to me, it was as if he was heaven sent, that moment, that night. He will never know what his small act of kindness meant to someone like me. In the parking lot of Macy’s grocery store.

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” (Tennessee Williams)

Especially while living an unexpected life.

Don’t we all?

The Day After My First Date

“If you think there are no new frontiers, watch a boy ring the front doorbell on his first date.” (Olin Miller)

Or try re-entering the dating scene after being married, and out of it, for 20 years!

The day after my first date (not the first date of my life, when I turned 16 in 1983 and saw the movie “Strange Brew” with a boy I’d liked since I was 15 years old)–the first date of my newly single, unexpected life in 2009, my pastor and his family invited my children and I over for Sunday dinner.

After we were seated around the table and the food had been blessed, he turned to me and asked what I had been up to. I decided then was as good a time as any to be honest about my foray into dating, so I said, “You won’t believe it, but I went on a date last night!”

I don’t think that is what my pastor expected to hear. He choked on his soup!

When he recovered, he asked me what I’d done for my date. I told him I’d gone to a singles dance at a local university. He and his wife exchanged a look across the table…and BOTH of them choked on their soup!

The conversation turned to other things, but after the children finished eating and left the table, they told me to be careful. As part of their church assignment, they said they had chaperoned those types of activities and had heard a lot of scary things went on at those type of gatherings. My pastor admonished me to never go alone as the parking lots were especially “dangerous” for single women.

Instead, he encouraged me to try a different type of single activity–Sunday night meetings where guest speakers presented spiritual messages to the singles group and everyone stayed afterward to eat refreshments and mingle. He said the type of people who attended those activities were a better caliber of people. He made me promise I would try one of those.

If there is one thing about me, it’s that I am committed. When I give my word, I follow through. That promise nagged at the back of my mind for a few weeks until I finally decided to try one of the Sunday night meetings, just so I wouldn’t have anything hanging over my head. One night, on impulse (there I go again!) I went to a Sunday night gathering. But instead, afterward, I was the one who wanted to choke!

I went alone. Although I was meeting some single men, the online thing wasn’t helpful for meeting single women. I researched the location on the internet and drove off to the building. I wasn’t expecting much. I imagined the gathering would take place in a small room of a church building, with maybe 13 people in attendance. I planned to sit through the talk and then leave as soon as it was over. I was shocked when I pulled up to the building and saw the parking lot was full, and that cars were parked on the streets too! I saw several people walking in. Clearly, it was going to be more than I anticipated.

I walked toward the entrance, alone, in the dark. I could see a man actually running toward the building. I started to wonder what I was doing. I felt 12 years old again, watching a boy RUN to not be late to an important event. I started to shake my head and laugh that this was my new life at the same moment the man ran past me. Then he stopped, turned around, walked back to me, shook my hand, introduced himself, and turned and ran into the building! The door slammed behind him just as I arrived at it. I opened the door for myself and went in.

The meeting was not being held in a small room of the church building. Instead, it was in the chapel and overflow area and it was packed with people. “Are there this many single people in my city?” I wondered. I was shocked. (I found out later that Utah County has approximately 40,000-50,000 singles. I guess I moved to the right place to meet single people. I just had to figure out how!) The next thing that shocked me was the age of the crowd. It seemed like everyone was older, gray-haired, and looked like a grandma or a grandpa. I thought of my mom, who had been widowed and single for 20 years–NOT of myself! I felt like the youngest person there, and I could have been (or it could have been that whole age denial thing going on there too.)

I sat on the back row and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. Every time I looked up I saw people quickly look away. Every time the outside door opened, I noticed a sea of heads turn in the direction of the door to check out who was entering the room! I wondered if people were there for the message or to people watch instead! I was betting on the latter. The expression from the 1980s, “meat market,” came to mind. Weird to see grandmas and grandpas doing that though!

The message was about marriage. The speaker said he had gotten married because he had worked to make that a possibility, and that marriage was possible for everyone if they just wanted it bad enough and worked hard enough to make it happen. He was a lot older and more experienced than I am, so he may know more than I do about that, but I had only one thought as I sat there: what about those people who were married, and did all they could to love and serve and support and trust their spouse, and ended up single through no fault or plan of their own? I wondered where I fit in. Or, if I even “fit” at all.

I didn’t feel like I did.

As soon as the meeting was over, I escaped out the door as quickly as I could and drove home. Alone. In the dark. I had kept my promise but I have to say, I didn’t leave feeling encouraged. The message had only raised questions that I’d never thought of. As much as I try to keep my chin up and remain optimistic, my thoughts as I drove home that night were this: I was destined to be single the rest of my life, and so was everyone else I’d seen at the meeting. Nothing made me feel more hopeless about remarriage than that Sunday meeting, my initial impression of the people in attendance, and the message…unless it was a singles dance!

But I’m not a quitter. I believe you can’t judge something by your first impression. I felt I owed my pastor one more shot at a singles gathering before I made up my mind about it.

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a glutton for punishment.

One Date

An interesting thing happened on that first date. Well, a couple of things.

First, I learned that your date always wants to know your story on the first date–ie. why you got divorced. Wow. I didn’t know that in advance and I was so clueless about dating in the year 2009 I didn’t know to expect that. So when Bachelor #1 asked me that, in my usual deer-caught-in-headlights style, I told him the WHOLE story. Based on the way I’d been treated by some people since the nightmare leading to my single status began, I worried he might open the door and leave me on the side of the road in a Utah city I didn’t know very well yet as soon as he knew my history! But I didn’t consider not telling him or not telling the truth. So I told him. Everything.

His reaction shocked me. He looked at me and said just two words: “I’m sorry.”

Sorry? HE was sorry? He hadn’t done anything. He hadn’t been there, hadn’t known me, in fact, had just met me but he was sorry? I was stunned. He told me he was sorry about what had happened to me and my children. He said he was sorry we had had to live through all of that. And you know what? Just having a virtual stranger hear my story and tell me he was sorry it had happened (instead of immediately questioning my knowledge of what had gone on–or worse, my possible involvement) was healing. I was on the path to overcoming.

Other things helped too. Like laughing, having fun, and feeling carefree for an hour or two. I noticed that for the first time since March 18, I didn’t feel alone and like I, alone, was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. While on that date, I had a break from my sorrow and my troubles and THAT was a welcome relief!

And, of course, after the decades of lies and betrayals that led to me worrying about being an “old bag” and feeling like one, having a man compliment my appearance was an added bonus!

Before I went in the house, my date also gave me some excellent dating advice for the second time around.

He told me I’d find dating very different in my 40s. He said that by the time people reach our age, they know very quickly what they want and what they don’t want. He told me to not be offended if someone didn’t like me or want to date me a second time. He said, “Remember back in high school just because you met people, you didn’t want to date ALL of them!” (Just when you thought high school was long in the past…you become unexpectedly single again!) He told me never to think something was wrong with me, it would simply be a matter of them and what they were looking for.

I headed into the house sure I’d never hear from him again.

One date. And already a loser!

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Ready, Set…Go?

I thought I was ready to date again. Actually, that might be a bit of a stretch. I had been married and out of that type of social situation for the previous two decades. I didn’t have a clue what dating was like in 2009. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know how to meet anyone and I didn’t know how to go about being “single.” What I WAS ready for, however, was to not feel so lonely!

So, I thought I was ready to move forward with my life. But what did my children think about that? I get asked that question a lot. Here’s the answer:

Before I was even divorced, when my children and I were still living in our home in Colorado with their dad prior to our move to Utah, one day I was standing in the kitchen and my two oldest children walked in. Out of the blue they said, “Mom, you have GOT to date, find a nice man and get married again!”

In shock, I looked at them and put a finger to my lips to hush them. Their dad was in the house, watching t.v. in the next room! I said, “Thank you for that, but I’m still legally married. I can’t date!” And then I laughed–knowing no one would want a financially-devasted, forty-something woman; the sole support of four children. (There’s nothing like a couple decades of lies and betrayal by a spouse to make you feel old, wrinkled and, like I’ve said before, an “old bag!”)

It was all so new, I think I was still in shock, and I had way too much on my plate in terms of moving, working and being a mother to think I’d ever have time to date anyway. I couldn’t comprehend anything like that (at that time) in my life. Little did I know the crushing weight of loneliness a single mother feels.

So, before I was even divorced, my children had given me permission to date.

And eventually, thanks to the terrible loneliness, I joined them in their readiness for their mother to date.

I tried to be a bit circumspect in my approach. I didn’t know anyone, and didn’t know how to meet anyone, so I decided to start with the singles program of my church. I got online and checked out the local site. It listed a lot of activities and things I didn’t understand. It also listed dances (every Friday night in Utah county) and Sunday night meetings called “firesides” where guest speakers present spiritual messages to the group.

My problem? I didn’t feel ready to walk in alone.

So I thought about it for awhile.

And then late one Friday night, on a total impulse, I did something else before I even dared go to a dance or a fireside and walk in alone.

I probably should have listened to Henry Ford: “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.”

Instead, I acted impulsively.

If you keep reading, you’ll see that I’ve done that a few times. (You’ll have to decide for yourself how you think it turned out for me.)

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“A wind has blown the rain away and blown the sky away and all the leaves away, and the trees stand. I think, I too, have known autumn too long.” (E. E. Cummins)

By the end of September 2009, we were getting into the routine of our new life. My youngest spent the day being tended by someone other than me and was enjoying preschool three afternoons each week; my middle son was adjusting to his new school, piano lessons, and having his mom work full-time; my daughter was adjusting to her new school and new life and preparing dinner every night for the family; and my oldest was slowly adjusting to his new school, new life, and the role of oldest brother/not quite the father but was expected to do some of that type of thing for his siblings too.

Autumn came to Utah and with the seasonal changes came a huge one, for me personally, as well.

I had known “autumn” too long in my life. My divorce had been final for “only” 2 months, yet I had felt absolutely alone and lonely since March 18. (I couldn’t believe how alone I felt while still legally married and living in Colorado with my spouse in our home. The truth He had revealed had instantly changed not just our lives and our family, but our relationship as well. We were living in the same house, for the sake of our children, but we were not emotionally connected anymore. And after 20 years of companionship and what I thought had been a good relationship and a solid marriage, I was stunned at how different I felt. Instantly alone. Completely alone. Alone in the world. ALONE.)

I had moved away from my life, my friends, my support, and my social networks. And whether it was loneliness from moving, or loneliness from being single, I didn’t know. All I knew was that I couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore.

I decided I was ready to be more social.

I decided I was ready to meet people.

I decided I was ready to date. (Did I just say that?)

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a question: Who can be betrayed so completely and so thoroughly in every way for nearly 20 years of marriage and not only be willing to subject themselves to the possibility of that again, but be willing to trust others, even men, again? And so “soon?”


Call me crazy, call me whatever you want, but for some reason, I was. I had been lied to, deceived, betrayed, and everything else attendant with being the former spouse of a man running a Ponzi scheme for 15 years, yet I still was willing to trust. I’m guessing it was that optimistic, fairy tale-loving and believing part of me, manifesting itself again. (Or maybe it’s just the way I was raised? lol.)

Whatever it was, all I can say is that dating in the 21st century turned out to be a LOT different than the last time I had dated…the 1980s.


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Filing Papers

The packing of possessions continued, I started my new job working from home, I was moving from Colorado to Utah in less than two weeks and there was one other task to complete prior to the move: file the final paperwork for my divorce.

He went with me to file the last of our paperwork. It went very smoothly. We got along, talked, I made a few jokes (my typical style of making fun of the hard stuff so I don’t think about what is REALLY going on) and I tried not to think about what was taking place. As he drove, He commented that he didn’t think many divorcing couples were as cordial to one another as they filed their final paperwork as we were.

I couldn’t respond to that. I just kept reading and re-reading the words on the papers and no matter how many times I skimmed them, they didn’t seem real. Could they really be about divorce? I had never imagined myself divorcing. In fact, my divorce had made a liar out of me.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the many times over the years, as parents of one of my children’s friends would divorce my child would ask, “You and dad will never get divorced, will you?” (I remember asking my parents that same question when I was a girl and parents of one of my friends divorced.) And my answer had always been the same: “Absolutely not. I can’t think of a single thing a member of my family could do that would ever result in divorce.” Unfortunately, I never imagined the double life my spouse had been leading. I never imagined that anyone I knew personally (much less lived with) was capable of committing a single crime (much less all that He had done.) I never imagined that promise to my children would turn out to be a lie.

As we drove to file the paperwork, He also made some predictions about the next five years–five years was the amount of time He anticipated being in prison. His first prediction? That I would re-marry.

I didn’t expect to hear that. I was sure, for a myriad of reasons, that would never be in my future. And I certainly didn’t want to discuss it with Him! At that time, I couldn’t comprehend it. I was sure it wouldn’t be true. After being married nearly 20 years, I couldn’t comprehend dating much less getting married! He also predicted the demise of an extended family member who struggled with mental health issues and addictions. Funny, but the remarriage He predicted for me shocked me WAY more than hearing what he thought the future held for extended family.

He then told me I had His permission to fall in love again with another man, as long as the man would be good to our kids. I didn’t respond for SO MANY reasons.

I didn’t need His permission. His permission was not His to give. We were divorcing–not to mention the fact that after all He had done, I didn’t feel He had a right to dictate anything for me or my children, then or in the future.

I thought it was strange to have him mention something like that while we were legally still married.

I knew there was no way I’d even have time to date, much less re-marry, when I was the sole parent to four children who had been traumatized. I felt all of my time, energy and effort needed to be directed toward helping them heal. I truly felt like I’d had my chance at life, and now my life was to help my children make the most of their chance.

As I mentioned before, I firmly believed no one in their right mind would ever want an “old bag!”

And who would ever want to take on the financial, emotional, and every other type of responsibility for four children?

Those are just some of the reasons I didn’t respond to his predictions. I was getting very good at “not hearing” and thus, not responding, to difficult things. It was the only way I survived those terrible months of 2009 and continued to live and hold my head up in the face of persecution and publicity and everything else that went along with my position as the wife of a criminal.

I had the terrible feeling I was destined to be alone on so many levels for so many reasons. I only prayed I’d be up to the challenge of loneliness. Because the loneliness was extreme. From the moment I found out about the ponzi scheme and pending incarceration of my spouse, although we were legally married and even living in the same house, I felt acute loneliness. I was alone in the world.

For the first time, I understood the concept of someone being surrounded by people yet totally alone. That was exactly how I felt. To anyone else who has ever felt that, I am truly sorry. I wouldn’t wish that degree of loneliness on anyone.

“Loneliness is the ultimate poverty.” (Abigail Van Buren)

A VERY unexpected life.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

What a wonderful occasion to think of our mothers, all they have been to us, and all they have taught us.

For me, every day is a little like Mother’s Day as my mother is not living. So each day I’m reminded of something she stood for, something she taught me, or something she said or did and I pause to remember her and her teachings and example that prepared me to live an unexpected life. I can’t help but wonder how differently things could have turned out for me had my mother not prepared me as excellently as she did. My story could certainly have turned out very differently. But thanks to my mom, I’m heading toward a happy ending. I’m indebted to her.

Today I remembered many good women I am indebted to: the mother who gave me life, the mother who raised me, aunts who have been mothers to me, and good friends who have filled in the voids that periodically surface in my life as I carry on without parents and in the past year, as I’ve pressed forward very alone.

Last Mother’s Day, my life had fallen apart. Less than two months before, I’d found out my spouse had been running a ponzi scheme for most of our marriage and would be heading to prison for several years, leaving me alone to provide for and raise our four children. We were divorcing. I was entering the work force for the first time in 18 years. Many changes hitting and all at the same time. For awhile, every day was more difficult than the previous one. It took herculean effort on my part to get out of bed every day and face what had become my life. But I did it.

However, last year, good friends made it a little less of a challenge.

Friends coordinated a special Mother’s Day for me–a bright spot in an otherwise very overwhelming existence. Many friends chipped in to the effort financially on my behalf. They made the day unforgettable for me.

The day began with an unexpected delivery of homemade cinnamon rolls, a box of See’s candy, the most beautiful arrangement of two-three dozen pink roses, and a card to me from many friends. They also delivered a huge, delicious meal to us as well.

Another friend took my daughter shopping so she could purchase some things for me for Mother’s Day.

Frankly, my life was in such turmoil I didn’t give much thought to Mother’s Day 2009. I probably was just hoping to make it through another day. I was too busy to think about it. And I was too devastated to expect anything special that day.

He was still in our home, living with us, we had four children together yet He did not mention one word about the day until evening. I noticed. So did my children. He came to me after it was dark and apologized for not having money to buy me a gift but said, “Happy Mother’s Day.”

He was sorry he couldn’t buy me a present? THAT was why he couldn’t even say the words, “Happy Mother’s Day?” until the day was past? I couldn’t believe it. I told him I never had been about the money and he knew that. I told him words didn’t require any currency. I reminded him I’d asked for very few (if any) material things as gifts in the course of our entire marriage and the only gift I’d ever requested was a letter of appreciation–which doesn’t cost anything but time and effort.

He acknowledged all of that and walked away. I shook my head, again, wondering if I’d ever known the stranger who was now living in my home.

So if you want to make a mother’s day, in my opinion, take a moment and write a letter of appreciation to a mother you love or admire. I promise, you’ll add to the joy of her day, and who knows, it just might help her over an unexpected event in her own life.

“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” ~Albert Schweitzer

Happy Mother’s Day to the mothers, women and friends who rekindle my spirit. How grateful I am for their influence in my life. May I follow their good example and be that to others in my own small way.

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