Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sindia Apple

Such a pretty name, pronounced "Cindy", with a totally unique spelling.

She is my mother-in-law, born in 1938 in Wise County, Virginia. Her name at birth was Willie Ann. After she married, she grew weary of constantly being assumed by virtue of her first name alone to be male and receiving mail addressed to Mr. Willie Apple. Having been enamored of her mother's given name of Sindia since she was a wee girl, she went through the legal process of changing her first name. 

She married very young, leaving the mountains of her youth for the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She and her husband had three children. Allen, Roger and Patricia. Allen had two children, Oscar and Dianna. Patricia had two sons, Daniel and Michael. Roger? Roger has had a steady stream of fur-babies his entire life and was the bachelor uncle to his niece and nephew from the time of his divorce from Ula in the early 80's until he was transported to this amazing life of  ours when we met in 2001.

Ann worked for a time in a zipper factory, cashiered at grocery stores, worked for 7-11, and eventually opened her own convenience store. After divorcing then remarrying her husband, she took on the monumental job of raising her grandson Oscar and only granddaughter Dianna. Mr. Apple became ill, and passed away after suffering a brain aneurysm and being diagnosed with lung cancer. She continued with the task at hand, never shirking her responsibilities. 

Her world was dimmed once again when she lost her oldest grandchild, Oscar, to cancer when he was only 26 years old.

My first husbands mother had passed away years before he and I met, so I had some degree of trepidation about having a mother-in-law. I am nothing if not honest, and I will admit there have been challenges. Ann has had a hard life, suffered the loss of many loved ones, and had numerous medical issues of her own to contend with through the years. She is the product of a time and experiences that are foreign to my own frame of reference. She is without a doubt one of the most fiercely independent and opinionated people I have ever known.

When you spend any amount of time at all with her, you learn what a generous person she is. I marvel at her determination to give to and do for people with such drive and focus. She seems compelled to nurture and mother people to a degree I have seen in few women. Having known her for 11 years, the one phrase that in my mind best describes her is, "beholden to no man".

I have a deep respect for her, and am appreciative of the person she is if for no other reason because she was able to produce a man who while not perfect, is perfect for me. In recent months she has had a few health issues. I am working with her on securing a place in an assisted living facility. This is a difficult time for her. She is frail, and I think more than a little bit afraid. Tough situation for such an independent person.

We would all be considered fortunate to have withstood some of the challenges she has faced, much less all of them. If there is someone like Sindia Apple in your life, take a closer look They may have more to teach you than you realize.

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