Hermina and Lou first treated me like a guest, ensuring that their daughter, and my dear friend, Karen, and I had plenty to do and that the boys were "polite," the freezer had been stocked with ice cream and the bedding felt "just right" for the hot summer week I'd spend 200 miles from my home.
Years thereafter brought weeks, during winter and spring breaks and summer vacations, when Karen and I grew in friendship and sisterhood, at her house or mine, having shared the typical milestones of late-20th-century teendom: social anxt, cute guy heartaches, disco-to-punk-rock "maturation," and then some. Karen's friendship is still a treasured part of who I am today.
But these were also years when I needed to look to the adults in my life for a "reality check"--on how family life should be conducted behind closed doors; on my future place as an adult in this world; on what I could and should expect of myself and of a mate someday in marriage. Surely Hermina and Lou knew, even more than I'd realized, how important their brief spurts of influence would turn out to be. It wasn't long before they treated me like their own family--listening, guiding, yet never condescending or judgmental. They watched for what they thought I needed and they gave generously with love, laughter and heart.
Hermina and Lou, thank you for patience, compassion and excellent role modeling. You made me feel "okay," despite emotional upheaval and unpredictability. Yours are traits (I hope) I've consciously adopted and remain aware of in order that I might recognize similar needs in youth and respond as you did to me--in ways that affirm, encourage and accept.
With love always.
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