The embrace was warm and lasted over 30 seconds. When they pulled away, the older woman was openly crying, the younger woman trying to hold it together. The younger woman reminder her to call when she got home and walked away. The older woman sat down beside me, sniffling and sobbing softly. I dug into my bag and pulled out my little pack of travel tissues and handed them to her.
She attempted a smile and took the pack. After taking one small tissue out of the pack she tried to give it back to me. “No, keep it; I have another pack somewhere, “I responded. Her voice barely audible as she thanked me. I asked if that was her daughter and she responded yes. They had met in New Mexico to see her grandson’s in a big rodeo, her daughter lived in Texas and she was still on the family ranch in Montana.
I told her I had been to Montana only once and was amazed by how idyllic the city of Billings was, with friendly people and one traffic light! She laughed as that is the big city in Montana terms; she lived 300 miles east of Billings on a 30,000 acre ranch. She lived there her entire life. Her parents owned the ranch and gave it to her and her husband. He has only died 6 months earlier.
She and her daughter had agreed that she should move to Texas now. This upset her son and his family on the ranch and so it was a difficult time. She knew it was time to go though. She didn’t like Montana’s weather and was tired of being Bob’s wife, or Bobby’s mom. She wanted to be Helen. Whoever Helen was of course.
As we sat and chatted, she shared that after her husband of 45 years had passed, her friends all started to ask her questions that surprised her. They asked about dating and men but they also asked about her. They asked her what she wanted to do, who she thought she was, what would make her happy? She didn’t know. Here was this vulnerable, strong, 70plus year old woman who had no real idea who she was versus her husband, her parents, and her legacy. She had never pondered who she was, what her purpose was, or what was really important to her. This was not part of her life, but certainly, it was now. Now, she had a decision to make. Does she move to Texas and be with her daughter, or does she stay on the ranch she has always been on, focused on life as she knows it.
This story hit me. I have been forever changed by meeting this woman and understanding how we can be any age and still wonder who we are. And we can be any age and realize there is more to life and fight for it.
That is the lesson and moral of this story. Stay focused, realize that it isn’t always laid out perfectly and learn from all that is around you. Know that you are always peeling away layers to become who we are meant to be. We are always evolving.
This woman was married over 45 years and she had never lived anywhere but this ranch. She was focused on moving on and moving forward. There was tremendous courage there and I loved seeing it and feeling it.She was just finding herself, and I realized as I speaking with her, that perhaps I was still finding myself. That perhaps we are always finding ourselves.