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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Strength

The saying on this t-shirt is not accurate, though there are those who believe all residents of NJ are brash and obnoxious. Since I have lived in New Jersey all my life, I know there are an abundance of kind people with helping hands here. Yet, despite the bold statement on the shirt, it is one of my favorites. I wear it so frequently it may become a rag in the near future, which will be sad.

The shirt has a history. I bought the t-shirt five years ago at Newark Airport. It was ridiculously expensive, but I bought it anyhow. My sister was with me and she bought a blue version of the same shirt. The two of us went to the airport to pick up our sister-in-law, our brother's widow--a woman who grew up in Texas and lives in South Carolina. She had flown to NJ because my mother was dying. While we always kept in touch over the years, visits were infrequent due to distance, scheduling, and other responsibilities. The last time I had seen her was around the time our daughters were in grade school.

I was worried she wouldn't know what we looked like anymore, with our chubby middle-aged bodies and our colored hair. So I made a sign, just a simple one like the limo drivers use. Of course, it was neatly lettered because I am my mother's daughter. :-)

It turned out I didn't need the sign. The moment our sister-in-law stepped out of the gate, she saw us and recognized us. And we recognized her. The years in between didn't matter.

It was a great comfort to have her with us. We survived that sorrowful time, not because we come from NJ, but because our sister-in-law and many others were there to support us. There were friends and relatives who sat with my father through my mother's last hours while hubby and I made funeral arrangements. There were many who came to the wake and the funeral to pay their respects.

When I wear the shirt, I remember those who strengthened me by reaching out with their concern during that time. I thank them with all my heart.

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