Oftentimes, I find myself getting lost in thoughts of the changes that I have experienced over the course of my life. Analysis of these changes often brings to light the growth that occurred along with the change. A change in plans, a change in habits, a change in career, a change in family structure, a change in health, and so on, whether intentional or unplanned, whether gradual or all of a sudden, all lead to personal growth.
Change can be terrifying. As humans, we are known to be more comfortable with things we are used to. Facing change has always brought fear with it, even to the most daring. Still, change is a part of life. We grow when we change. As we see leaves change colors and feel temperatures rise or drop, we witness change being manifested on Earth. Today I’d like to tell you about a personal story on change and growth – how a wonderful change brought an important person into my life and how that made ripple effects on who I was to become in the years to come.
Virginia, who “hated change,” and the change that brought me into her life
One of my favorite stories about change is a story about my relationship with my mother-in-law, Virginia. My mother-in-law was an amazing woman. She was my best friend. Her favorite saying was, “I hate change.” I understood why, but I would always say back to her, “Without change, you wouldn’t have me.” She would smile, give me a hug, and say, “As much as I hate change, I love the change that brought you into my life. Life IS change.”
Virginia had her sons young. She had three boys in four years. Her family was complete by the time she was 23. She and her husband were raising their boys up in the mountains, and life was good. Then, a life change happened that would make her claim the phrase, “I hate change,” as her mantra.
Her husband lost his life in a boating accident and at the age of 32, she was left to raise those three boys, ages 10, 12, and 13, by herself. Everything changed. She had to learn to drive, get a job, and make all of the decisions. She had to sleep alone. Even though she became a very independent and strong individual through this tragedy, she would’ve rather not.
On marriage, moving, and a growing family
I first met Virginia six years later, under what I considered to be joyful circumstances. I was engaged to her middle son. We had arrived at her family home to make the announcement. When I walked into the house, she took one look at me and said, “I hate change. I will not accept you into this family. I am the mother of boys. Do not expect me to know how to treat a girl.” (My then-boyfriend and I had only been dating for two weeks, even though we had gone to school together since the 8th grade, and she didn’t know he had a girlfriend. I was his first.) We were married four months later. By that time, Virginia and I were already great friends.
Two years into our marriage, we decided to move out of California and up to Idaho, for work. When we told Virginia that we were moving, she proclaimed, “I hate change. I’m not going to help you with this move. I don’t plan to come to visit you. You’re the ones moving away, you are the ones who will have to travel to come to see me.”
A year later, she drove 900 miles to hold my hand during the birth of her first grandchild. She would visit us twice a year after that, and we would drive down to visit her twice a year. As our family grew, we added an annual two-week road trip with ‘Grandma Gina.” She loved traveling and had her own bedroom at our house. She even learned how to ski even though she said she hated the cold. She came to visit us in the winter.
As I said, she was my best friend. I was lucky to have her as my dearest friend for over thirty years. I know that change is what brought us together. Even though she always claimed to “hate change,” I know that she loves watching her grandchildren change and grow. She loved being the mom of adult sons. She loved being my mother-in-law.
Change isn’t so bad
12 years ago, we came together at the end. The three of us together. At one point, while she was still lucid, she looked at me and said, “It’s okay, Little Girl. Change isn’t so bad.”
No matter how hard a change might be, remember that change is inevitable. Life is Change. To live is to change, every day. Accept it. Embrace it. Find the beauty in it. See the growth you make because of it. It’s one of life’s most beautiful and bittersweet experiences.