Small Joys

The holidays are finally over; I can only say I am grateful.  I found myself tearful, often.  In fact, more often than not, I found myself stepping out of the room so I could have a good cry.  How badly does that simply suck?  I wrote a different post for today, I decided I would post it tomorrow, today are my holiday stories.

Small stories of things that didn’t suck.  Stories proving the world will continue to spin and I won’t fall off, there are good people in it.

My favorite store in the entire world (other than DSW and Neiman Marcus Outlet) is Central Market.  I drive nearly twenty miles out of my way to shop at Central Market because it makes me happy.  This day 686px-FlowerShop_ShangHaiStreet_HKsolidified my love forever.  It was the day after DB took flight and I was feeling battered, barely hanging by my fingernails and certainly not up for pleasant banter.  I wanted fresh flowers to brighten my dismal mood and my dull table.  Wandering aimlessly, I picked from the individual bins when a woman slightly younger than me asked if she could assist, apparently she didn’t notice the storm cloud over my head.  She persisted though, silly girl, asking again if she could help and suddenly out of my mouth came the stupidest thing, “No, you can’t help me.  My husband of fourteen years left yesterday without a word, without good-bye or fuck you and all I want is some stupid flowers because nobody else will ever buy them for me again!”  I stared at her dumbfounded by my inability to act in a socially acceptable manner; she stared at me likely for the same reason, really who does that?  I found myself crying in front of a perfect stranger in the middle of Central Market.  With compassion and kindness, Maryam squeezed my arm, helped me make a beautiful bouquet and talked to me.  When I was done, when I made my way to the checkout stand with my groceries and my flowers she walked over and told the checker, “The flowers are on Central Market today”.

So I cried twice.  I hugged her for her kindness and reminding me there are lovely and compassionate people in the world.  Two days later I wrote a letter to Central Market telling them how much her gesture, her kindness and her empathy meant to me.  Yesterday, I saw her again and told her in person while we made another beautiful bouquet.

Other things that don’t suck, my children and their partners, my Wife-in-Law, my grandchildren and the family of my daughter-in-law all of whom made this holiday season bearable and sometimes even joyful.  Friends who have reached out to me throughout this season with short notes and telephone calls, just to check in and see if I was okay, friends here in my virtual world leaving me their e-mail address and talking to me, letting me know I wasn’t as alone as I felt.  You all just can’t imagine how much that means; when I see your notes, my spirit is lifted.

Another story from the holiday season, because family stories are important.  I spent Christmas Eve and morning at the home of youngest son and his marvelous partner, they are truly perfectly matched, the love that fills their home, between them and her children is addictive.  My wife-in-law was also visiting from Seattle (I adore her) and so Christmas was a happy time, despite the bittersweet undertones; she

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is going through her own challenge with her marriage also falling apart around her head, her husband notifying her on the very same day as mine of his intention to end their 30 year partnership (assclown).  Needless to say, she and I were challenged in our joy, but she and I were with the sons we loved, were also with each other and oddly, both take great pleasure in our company.  So between Moscow Mules, a perfect Mexican feast cooked by our children, watching our grandson open presents and planning for a future without our husbands there was laughter to be had.  I suggested my much-loved WIF come live with me; I find I have a significant amount of room now.  For some reason our sons find this idea ‘strange’, their mothers living together; she and I laughed uproariously at their discomfort!

Christmas morning found me awake long before the rest of the household, the first pot of coffee long gone before anyone else stumbled out of bed.  Wrapped in flannel and love, awaiting the arrival of two little girls and one more round of gift-wrap madness we spent our morning quietly chatting over a superlative breakfast cooked by my son (who knew).

Christmas day found the WIF and me at the home of my eldest sons in-laws; this is something of a tradition for the big holidays.  I am so grateful for the invitation and how I have been embraced by this large and loving family, it is a gift.  Theirs is a blended family that has blurred the lines by love, it is spectacular to witness and each time I am invited to their home I am awestruck by the immensity of their love, compassion, humor and this time their empathy.  It never surprises me why my son loves his wife; she comes from a family that understands commitment and love.  It never surprises me why I use to tell him he needed to marry her or I was keeping her when I see her with her family.

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This time though, well it was a bit overwhelming and I was brought to tears.  This, this was what I had wanted for myself.  This love, this commitment; this is what I wanted for me.  This is what I failed to build and this failure tore at my heart.  At one point during the celebrations I found myself walking outside simply to cry, just a moment of pure alone tears but it wasn’t to be because these are kind and loving people.  One of them saw me walking away and followed, without a word just followed and with a touch; a simple hug let me know I wasn’t alone, then with a bit of humor pulled me out of  my black cloud and back into the loving embrace of family.  I am so grateful to her for her empathy.

So those are my Christmas stories 2013.


  1. You made me cry! Thank goodness for the Maryams in this world.

  2. The kindness of strangers. What that young woman did for you was priceless. The true meaning of Christmas, helping someone in a moment of need. Thank you for sharing. There are truly good people in your life.

  3. I so enjoyed this story about Maryam. I am kind of surprised you didn’t mention it during our various conversations. You know how much I love “angel” stories.As for the family, and picking yourself up, we are on the same wave length. All be it different sides of the story, but much alike the same. Thanks for being here to lift me up and to listen when life is dragging me down. Just remember where to reach me if you need to talk. I owe it to you. Thanks to Red and the children, I had some of the simple joys of Christmas that carried me through. Thinking of you daily, Grant

    • I still love the story of Maryam, it lifts me up. We have our trials Grant and I thank you for allowing me to rant when necessary just as I thank Red for allowing me to bend both of your ears.

  4. Enjoyed the shared photo gallery too.

  5. What a simply beautiful story about the flower market Val… I read it to my husband… the world is so wonderful when we know there are angels like that hovering… so glad you have such a loving family to be with… that truly is a blessing too… love Valerie

    • Maryam was the best reminder of the good in the world, her kindness was a cool salve in my hurting heart at a time I needed it. She certainly attacked my impending bitterness that day, preventing me wallowing in my hurt. My sons, their partners and the extended family are also a great blessing, I found the cracks in my heart also soothed.

  6. Quite the emotional roller coaster … and I imagine a few tears appeared while writing this. Bottom line … there’s a good safety net for you, so don’t forget it … but you are still the main driver of the recovery … so be strong!

    • I am truly fortunate, in my extended and blended family. I am fortunate in my virtual community also. I have been supported and reminded I am of value, worthy and strong enough to walk through this. It helps, it doesn’t fix anything but it helps. I am thankful, full of gratitude for all the loving support I have received.

  7. AirportsMadeSimple says:

    “…this was what I wanted for myself…this is what I failed to build…”

    Hmmmm…me thinks if it WERE’NT for you, these magical moments are exactly what you have created for yourself and what you HAVE built. 🙂

    (I know what you were. saying, BTW. But I can be a bit difficult at times. heh heh)

    • You know, I think we can all be difficult be difficult now and then. I continue the search for the foundation. Walking around and and hoping it is stable. I feel as if the cracks are widening.

  8. I read this this afternoon Val. i wanted to wait till i got home to comment.

    So glad this one ended happy. I planned on calling you on Christmas but I forgot and so you cannot know how relieved i was to read of the wonderful Christmas with your family. Good for you Val. It is so nice to see you smile and know you are happy.

    ps I almost said know THAT you are happy. I caught myself 🙂

    • You made me laugh outright!

      I am fine Tom. Good days, bad days. It isn’t easy but it will get better with each passing day. I cannot change what is. I cannot change the choices others have made. I can only change what I do going forward.

      The holidays were good because I was with family, people I love and who love me despite my flaws (many). I was truly blessed by a stranger, reminding me there is good in the world.

      Happy New Year.

  9. Beautiful stories. You’re blessed despite what’s happened, so keep remembering how fortunate you are to have these kind of relationships in your life. And while you may not be able to see it now, love will come around again and when it does, it will be in the way you need it. Trust that. My mom’s 65 and getting married this year. She’s a hoot and a holler. I can’t decide which.

  10. When we need them most, angels appear – Maryam was the angel you needed. Bless you both.

    I agree with John – we are from a generation that believes in family – parents, spouses, children and all. I’m happy for you, Val, that you spent time with family and supportive love.

    Luv and hugz for 2014,

    • Maryam surely did remind me of the existence of angles walking the earth. I kept those flowers until there was not a speck of life left in them. She is a very kind lady, truly.

      I am fortunate in my family, though we are not the norm (traditional) we certainly are tight knit and I was uplifted and wrapped in love. It was wonderfully warm.

      Thanks Eric.

  11. singleworkingmomswm says:

    Val, I’m so glad you had a wonderful place and wonderful people to surround you during the holidays. I was very, very tearful through them, as well, but able to see the small joys, like you. Here’s to 2014, the New Year always provides a platform for renewed hope and happiness. Hugs, hugs, and more hugs! XOXO-Kasey

    • I am sorry, having read your recent posts I know why you were tearful. Here is hoping both our 2014 bring small joys and big openings. Renewed hope and friendships that open doors.

      Hugs right back at you


  12. You and I are from a time when love and family meant a husband, a wife, children. It was the expected thing to do: grow up, marry, reproduce. But, in the years since, the idea of family has changed quite a lot. Much to some people’s chagrin, family is often made up in many non-traditional ways.

    But, I think that for those of us that grew up back in the day, we still have it in our minds that in order to a success as a person, we must have a partner and offspring. We evaluate our self-worth based on having a successful, partnered relationship. And, while there is something to be said about romantic love, in many ways, it’s not the be all to end all that it once was. Love comes to us in many shapes and sizes. We simply have to learn how to recognize it, revel in it, wrap ourselves in the warmth of the love that our non-traditional, and extended families give us. Yes, it’s not the same as waking up in someone’s arms … but, love is love, and it seems to me that you are surrounded by quite a lot of love!

    I’m glad that, all things considered, you found love, warmth, and home this holiday season. I’m glad there was some laughter among the tears. You are lucky to have so many who love you!

    And, yay for Maryam!

    • Yay for Maryam indeed. I was so happy her manager shared my note with her. I was also happy I had the presence to say thank you in person. She truly was a blessing that day.

      You are so very right John, all the visions of traditional partnerships we had growing up are still part of us in many ways. Certainly part of what I thought I would be, who I would be. But then I am and have been part of a very large extended and non-traditional family for most of my life, I am happy to be part of this wonderful family and indeed blessed by a overflow of love.

  13. WordsFallFromMyEyes says:

    Oh Valentine, had so much been wondering how was your Christmas. My gosh, you must have felt like a nutter in the shop – but she did push you to your limit, & that’s what she got! And it turned out well because she was caring, & didn’t just back away.

    I’m so glad for all your family pictures there, that you had family, and that things went onward. Merry Christmas, sincerely, Val, N’n.

  14. being male, “married” to a wife-in-law (wiktionary definition 2), i have mixed emotions, but i do hate sadness however it happens.

    • Wife-in-law = my ex husbands ex wife, his first wife and the biological mother of my two sons (step sons). We could never come up with a worth definition of our relationship, which has lasted far longer than either of our marriages to our mutual ex husband, so wife-in-law was the best we could come up with. It works, it ocassionally makes people very uncomfortable, it makes us laugh (uproariously).

      We have been in each others lives for 33 years. We have been friends for many of those years. I hate sadness too, both of us are sad right now. Both of us deserve better than what the has been handed to us, but I suspect both of us will get beyond it and both of us will still have each other and our terrific sons.

  15. I need a hanky, too, Val. Love from family and from strangers. Perfect.

    Hugs from me and a wish that 2014 for you doesn’t suck a single bit.

  16. Awww You, I have to get out my hanky again now!…. Lovely that you allowed us to share in your family Val, and I love your photo’s and that beautiful lady in the Central market… Yes we have some wonderful Souls around us..
    Wishing your 2014 to be filled with what your Dreams are made of… Love and Blessings and Happy New Year Val xx

    • Thanks Sue, there are some lovely people around us aren’t there? This is especially true if we don’t snap their heads off before they can show us (oops).

      I am glad you enjoyed my little bit of happiness.


  17. Whomever we call family, whether by blood or friendship, are a deep well of sustenance in time of need. I am so pleased to hear you were surrounded by love this past Christmas, Val.

    • Despite it all I am extremely fortunate, I think I know this Tess. I simply have to keep reminding myself.

      • That’s it, Val. You Do know, and everyone knows you know, but you’re in a revolving door right now, which is overwhelming at the moment. 🙂 One day, and one step at a time. Breathe in. Breathe out.
        I’ll stop now–not to sound preachy–that ‘s not what I have in mind. I’ve been broken over a marriage. sometime back. I’m here to support you. 😉

  18. Ms. Val, I have been thinking, praying, and yes worrying about your welfare at this very difficult time however I have no clichés or pearls of wisdom to offer other than to say
    just keeping moving forward. ” This too shall past.”
    Your friend,

    • It will pass, I know it and I hope by picking out the small joys I remind myself of this. I think you, from my heart for your thoughts and prayers. They are welcome and I am grateful.


  19. The fact that you posted about the positive in such challenging times speaks volumes about you, Valentine. How admirable. I believe it also shows that you will weather this storm intact and come our even stronger. You inspire me!

    • Carrie, I find the only way I will get through this is if I can find those small gems of love, empathy and compassion; whether from complete strangers or those I love. It is this in the end that convinces me the world is worth the effort. This is true even if I am highly dysfunctional right now (I am) and highly unhappy right now (I am). I know it cannot be forever (it won’t), even if there will always be a piece of my heart gone (it will).

      Thanks Carrie, if I can inspire even now then perhaps I can lift myself with the help of my friends. That is a hope worth fighting for.

  20. Hugs Valentine! what a heartfelt post, There’s indeed nothing like family and heart warming friends to look forward to and be comforted by. 🙂

    • This is true Andy, I find I am being embraced and lifted up. It is still hard, or maybe I am just hardheaded. It is I think I long road ahead, but I am I think being lifted up and this will make the road far less rocky.

  21. It may just be my head cold, but I got a little teary over this post. I love the flower market story – those moments of kindness in the midst of misery are so meaningful. It’s also a reminder to us that we can give those moments as well.

    • I hope it isn’t just your head cold (feel better soon). The flower market story gave me hope, still does. She was such a kind person, even the other day when we talked again. She is a bright light. I suspect there are many of them in the world, it is simply a matter of opening our eyes and hearts.

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