Forward Living: What to do if your ship passes you by

In January, my son Jeff and I were chatting about this and that — just an ordinary phone conversation, or so I thought. He was recounting his trip to Sicily, discussing the election results, the weather and, smack in the middle of our exchange, he said, “And Mom, it looks like you’re gonna finally be a grandma!” Jeff then continued the conversation — one-sided now!

I wasn’t sure I’d heard correctly. It took a full minute before I interrupted his jabbering and said, “Back up, Jeff. What did you say?” He laughed and said, “Mom, you heard me; you’re going to be a grandma.” Then his wife, Cassandra, joined the conversation and all hell broke loose — in a good way!

I wanted to tell the world, take an ad out in the paper (Times Review, of course), shout it from the mountains and call the sitting president, but it was early in the pregnancy. I was sworn to secrecy. Yikes! I couldn’t even tell my siblings. For some, this wouldn’t be a big deal; however, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut in ordinary circumstances, much less being sworn to secrecy.

During the time of my enforced silence, I had only myself to talk to — but wait, I did have some bittersweet conversations (one-sided, of course) with my deceased husband George, Jeff’s dad. I told him how grateful and blessed I felt that we were going to be grandparents. I wished he was here to witness this miracle. But, then again, my faith tells me he knows.

Folks, this is a true miracle in my life; I thought this ship had sailed years ago.

Did you ever put your hands up and wave a white flag of surrender? When we’re forced to face the hard truth that the ship of (fill in the blank) that we yearned for has sailed, we experience an open wound of loss that never quite heals.

Perhaps you had to give up a long-held career dream because life and obligations got in the way of fulfilling your goals.

Perhaps the reconciliation you’d hoped for with a spouse, significant other, friend or family member didn’t materialize.

Perhaps your kid didn’t become a brain surgeon as you had envisioned, but chose to form a rock group instead.

Perhaps you suffer from a chronic condition that pulls you down, making optimum health feel like pie in the sky.

Perhaps the realization that your spouse or significant other will never change hits you between the eyes.

Perhaps you have been obsessing over a lost love much too long.

Perhaps you have given up on finding love, citing age.

At one time or another, many of us have stood on the dock and watched the ship carrying our hopes and dreams sail away. What can we do?

For starters, we need to review our expectations and ask if they’re as realistic today as they were years ago. We need to envision a broader perspective than our own limited view of the situation. The boss’ son won that promotion you gave your life’s blood for — not because of your lack, but simply because he’s the son. Folks, nepotism is well and alive and trumps everyone else. We can try again or explore another track. Nothing is final until we meet our maker.

Author H. Jackson Browne Jr. writes: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the thing that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Disappointments, heartbreak and setbacks can leave us feeling that our ship has sailed, but has it? Perhaps it’s still in the harbor shrouded by mist and fog. I’m ecstatic that my grand-mommy ship materialized. Hmm. Maybe another ship is waiting in the harbor for you and me.

Who knows? I may still get to write the Great American Novel!

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.