Something Wicked This Way Comes

One Sunday morning lo, these many years ago, I went to youth group at the church and met up with my friend Scott. We had horrifying news to discuss. Daddy had gone on a date the night before–with Scott’s MOTHER. After sharing mutual teenage ick over the thought of parents dating, one of us hazarded the unthinkable: “What if they GOT MARRIED?!”

Well, they did. I inherited a bonus mom and a couple of brothers, and one memorable April night during my senior year of high school, Daddy called to inform me that I had a new baby sister. My other sister, brother and I lived with Miss Carolyn, but we spent lots of weekends at Daddy’s house, and it was those weekends, and the many, many years that followed, that let me know what a catch my stepmother was for all of us.

Once I graduated from college and came back home to sing in the church choir, sitting in the chair next to Cindy-Mom, as we called her then,¬†we settled on the nicknames we both use to this day. It was the first rehearsal in the fall, and we were all getting to know each other. You’d say your name, and someone from the choir who knew you would share something about you. I introduced myself and was promptly tagged with something from someone who’d known me since I was eleven. When her turn came, she said, “I’m Cindy Gaston,” and a good friend of the family’s teased, “It’s the Wicked Stepmother!” We all died laughing, and ever since then, I’ve called her Wicked and she’s called me Ugly–stepdaughter, you know.

WickedWicked is a bit of a different creature from Miss Carolyn, although the two of them share a lot of qualities like love, loyalty, and a strong will, not to mention birthdays one day apart. She’s eminently sensible–one doesn’t live for many years as the single parent of two boys without it–but she has a quick wit and a sly sense of humor that pop out at unexpected times. She is always prepared. ALWAYS. I’m not sure if she was the one with sense enough to bring an iron to the bride’s dressing room during my wedding, but she sure deployed it. She’s the kind of woman you can count on for contact solution, exact change, and a soft pack of Kleenex in her purse. Honestly, I don’t know how she puts up with me sometimes, since I’m always leaving things behind and never have cash and despite my tendency to tear up at Publix commercials–much less funerals and other much more sob-worthy occasions–am always tissue-less.

This woman kept both of my babies when they were infants–talk about a gift! She manages our visits with a smile and patience, despite the raucous hurricane my bunch happens to be (I know all the noise must drive her introverted self absolutely bonkers), and although it’s probably a relief when we head back down the mountain, she always reminds us to come again soon. She’s a master at the cool present you never knew you needed until she gives it to you, like my absolutely favorite pajamas or my famous female authors umbrella. It’s also kinda nice to know that even though we share zero Meyers-Briggs traits in common, we work really well together. It was a high compliment indeed the day she told me I was one of the only women she could stand to work alongside in the same kitchen.

Miss Carolyn used to joke when we were teenagers that, “It takes three parents to raise this bunch.” I’m not sure if that’s true exactly (although now that I have two teenagers, I sure understand her point of view a bit better), but we are definitely richer for having a bonus mother. Happy Mother’s Day, Cindy-Mom. Stay Wicked.

1 Comment

  1. Wicked

    Thank you sooo much for all the kind words. You have given me a different perspective on so many things and broadened my life too. Taking care of your babies was a gift. Babies are my love!


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