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A Love Letter To Sharon


I was 18 when I met you, straight out of high school.  I had just started dating the eldest of your three sons.  Although immediately attracted to him, I was unprepared for the power of my reaction to meeting you.  Tall, slim and elegant, with beautiful deep brown eyes and reddish brown hair you kept short, showing off your delicate features.  A former Sears catalog model and the Snow Queen of your high school winter formal.  You were a knock out.


To a young girl like me you were an intoxicating woman.  With a quick smile and an easy laugh.  Your clothes and your home were gracious and tasteful.  You made me feel comfortable from the minute we met.  I was smitten.

Twenty three years into an enviable marriage.  Happy and interesting, yours seemed the perfect union, the perfect home and family, and you were at its centre.  There were traditions, old jokes, sarcastic nick names.  If your son wasn't fantastic enough, the family you had created was the cherry on top.

You died on a Monday.   And I wasn't there.  

On April 24, 2006, I lost one of the great loves of my life.  Sharon Jane Dudar.  You were only 62.


After 9 years of battling breast cancer on your own terms, with four surgeries, and countless hours of costly homeopathy and naturopathy, you went home to be with the Lord, and left all who knew you bereft.

When we met, you were 43.  I am 42.

You had been married 23 years.  We'll hit 22 this June. 

You were on the precipice of empty nest, as am I.


Only now, that I am truly in your shoes, am I fully able to understand the inheritance I was given.  Only now can I grasp how generously you gave of yourself for my benefit and the benefit of your family.  And I am grieved, that now, when I can finally fathom all you gave me, that I am unable to thank you.

Thank you for the sons you raised.  All three, loving, faithful husbands and fathers.  To thank you for the example you and my father in law set of a happy marriage, where each partner was equal in value, yet free to live out their contrasting roles as husband and wife. 


For understanding what it was like for me to be a very young wife and mother, and to miss the companionship of friends, who now had nothing in common with me.  For becoming my closest friend and confidante, at a time when I could have drowned under the weight of all my new responsibilities.

For watching our little ones so we could go away for anniversary weekends downtown.  For buying me pretty nursing bras when I felt fat, sweaty and hideous.  For being on my side when my husband was being unreasonable.  For tactfully telling me when I was being unreasonable.

For cheerfully answering the phone at 7am for the fourth day in a row when, lonely for adult conversation, I called, after again, being up since 5am with a toddler and a new born.

For listening to long, detailed stories about teething and diaper rash, celebrating the purchase of our first little house, and for being so excited to take the girls to Disney on Ice.  For welcoming my parents to all the special occasions you hosted, and for enthusiasticly praising my food and table setting when I first hosted.

For listening when I was lonely, and for knowing what I needed before I did because you had been their first.

You didn't resent my youth, or that your first born moved out and pledged his undying love to me.  You kept your own frustrations, struggles and insecurities away from your adult children, replying instead on your own peers and mentors.  Yet you shared just enough of the hardships from your younger, family days to let me know you'd been there too.

I was the first girl to infiltrate the ranks of your tight knit family, in which you were the only female.  I might have expected to receive territorial jealousy, judgement, perhaps condescension.  All so common when the first girl comes along to breach the matriarch's domain.  This was not the case.

In a world where women disappear from our TV screens the minute they turn 40, and are made to feel put out to pasture when they finish raising a family, you showed me the true value of a mature woman.

So many of the things I do, and am, are because of you.  You were the type of woman who could look herself in the mirror and embrace the crows feet and the liver spots because they were badges of honour, of a life well lived and well spent.  Who could embrace age knowing that with it comes wisdom, and the opportunity to see respect and gratitude in the faces of your children, and the depth of love that can only come from a marriage well worn in by the years.

You suffered terribly your last year my dear Sharon, and my father in law never left your side.  He administered your morphine, rearranged the living room to accommodate your medical, hydraulically equipped Lazy Boy, as you could no longer rise from a chair on your own.  He was there to assist you after two separate hip replacements when the cancer got into your bones, making them brittle as ashes.  He listened kindly as the Sharon he knew slowly disappeared and the disease took her over your personality.  The consummate lady to the end, you still had someone in each month to keep up your pedicure.
Five years later, I still miss you most days.  Although there are days now when I don't think of you, I simply carry you with me.  And yet my grief doubles back on me.  Your absence at our daughter's wedding last summer brought a sharp edge to an otherwise perfect day.  

I continue to look for you.  To find your kindred soul in another.  As I enter this next phase of my life without the daily rigors of a full time family, I long for your kind guidance and understanding. 


And so it goes, each generation needing something from the one above, looking to them for guidance.  The blessing you were to me is something I try very hard to emulate.  I now fully understand how valuable your influence was to me, and hope that I am able to give that to others.

You showed me the priceless value of a wise and understanding mentor, and the incredible, life long impact one can make.  You modeled what it means to age well.  To live a life of consequence.  You showed me how to love adult children, and supported me through the years of raising a family and cultivating a young marriage.  You are a woman to be praised, and on this Mother's Day, I want to rise up and call you blessed.

Proverbs 31:25-30
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; 
she can laugh at the days to come. 
26 She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 
27 She watches over the affairs of her household 
and does not eat the bread of idleness. 
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; 
her husband also, and he praises her: 
29 “Many women do noble things, 
but you surpass them all.” 
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; 
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.


Reader Comments (4)

Absolutely gorgeous.. As my eyes are still wet from reading this and I am encouraged to move forward as a mother because of the long legacy we can leave our families. What an honor to read this. You have been blessed and are such a blessing to your own family and to all of us who can FEEL your experiences and life lessons and take them home with us also. I love you my friend!! connie

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie De Jong

Boy, you should have warned before you started this post, that a box of Kleenex was a must have! Beautiful, just beautiful! You were very blessed to have such a special, wonderful, mother-in-law!

May 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSue @ House Pretty

SO amazing!!! Well said, you made me tear up. I feel much of the same about my mom. She passed 12 years ago before any of my kids were born, and I definitely feel the pain of her loss the most since having kids. There is so much that I would love to share with her and ask her about. She was my very best friend!!!!

Thank you for sharing this with us!!!

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMeranda

Precious... Inspires me to write to my mother-in law... Strong @ 86. We know every day is a gift

February 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBonnie in Japan

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