39: Love Is Spelled Bev

39: Love Is Spelled Bev

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Love Is Spelled Bev

If you just believe in me, I will love you endlessly.

~Mariah Carey

Our family had suffered many medical hardships that left us stressed and in poverty. My mom, Nancy, didn’t want us to miss out so she let us spend time with others who could provide experiences that she couldn’t give us. Sometimes this meant we ate dinners with other families or didn’t celebrate our birthdays with her.

In my case, I often had dinner and played board games at my boyfriend Tommy’s house. His mother Bev showered me with kindness and encouraged me to achieve greatness when I was a teenager.

She was compassionate and knew some of the difficulties my family faced. I remember her telling me, “Kelly, the one thing in life that can’t ever be taken from you is an education. Pursue higher education to empower yourself. It’s always comforting to know you can provide for yourself.”

She not only encouraged me to work hard and achieve, but she also exposed me to the very things that could be gained through success. She did this by including me in her family outings, which often involved theater and fine dining. I remember being in awe of the fancy hotels with marble halls and crystal chandeliers. I was wide eyed and grateful for each new experience they shared with me.

When I turned eighteen and graduated from high school, Tommy and I got married. We had two wonderful years together until he died in a motorcycle accident.

Unfortunately, as part of my grieving process, I thought I should separate myself from Tommy’s family, and that meant abandoning Bev. I wanted to be left alone with my pain.

The amazing thing was, just like my own mother’s love, Bev’s love for me remained steadfast. As I moved on with my life, attending college and striving for some of the very things she instilled in me, she watched from a distance and encouraged me. When I found love again, married, and had children she was right there. And I was ready to go back to her.

Bev welcomed my husband and children into her life with a compassionate and loving heart. Even when others questioned why she would welcome my new husband into her family, she says, “That is my Kelly and that was my son’s Kelly. He would want her to be happy and loved, with my support.”

More than twenty years have passed and I have seen that neither grief nor love have expiration dates or rigid rules. Just as Bev has room in her heart for me, my husband, and our children, they have room in their hearts for her. The kids call her “Aunt Bev.”

I am truly the lucky one. I have the love of my mom, two mothers-in-law, and a wonderful husband, who accepts and respects that my past is part of my present. The funny thing is that both my mothers-in-law are named Beverly. I don’t believe that is a coincidence; instead I see it as another one of love’s miracles.

~Kelly Hennigan

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