I remember the first outfit I was wearing when I met Robin. Johnny had told me she was coming to town, and even though we weren’t even close to dating - I still carefully plucked an outfit that felt special - that would make a nice first impression. Blue butterfly jacquard. I don’t think she noticed me ... or the dress.
Months later we met again - she noticed me for sure this time, but I was way too nervous to recall what I was wearing. I had fretted about meeting her. Would she like me? Would she size me up? Would she approve of me? Here I was, 24 and divorced, and a single mother. I worried that I came with too much baggage to get the approval to date her son. But that’s not Robin.
We sat in the living room and talked and played with Jackson ... She taught him to say “Bapple” (1 year old for “Apple”). I found myself comfortable and stress free. I felt warmth and acceptance. Somewhere down the road, she told me the story of when she had first introduced her boys to Tom’s Mom and Dad ... being a divorced single Mom herself - she carried that same worry. She told me that Stormy and Stan embraced the boys, told the kids to call them “Grandma and Grandpa” and never for a single second made her or them feel like an outsider.
She did the exact same thing for me. She welcomed me and Jackson right in, open arms, and never once made us feel like we were anything but family.
I’ve never been much of a drinker, but for some reason I always drank with Robin. And too much. At my bridal shower I wore a short dress with a fluffy skirt - I tipsily twirled and mooned the room. Robin drove me home and reported back that she had, “Never been to a party like THAT!”. But we laughed. She liked me even when I showed (my literal) ass.
We bonded over our battle wounds. The circumstances of our divorces were plenty different - but there was unity in having survived them. I looked at her marriage to Tom as a shining example of how happy I could and should be. The love they have together has been more obvious than I’ve witnessed in most marriages.
Five years ago Johnny and I almost split. Robin’s “cancer free” badge had been stripped and replaced with “tumors in the lungs”. I remember her sitting me down on Jackson’s bed. She held my hand, looked me in the eye, and told me they weren’t ready to lose me. I cried. I told her we weren’t ready to lose her, either.
Robin has had cancer for 7 years. She is a warrior like none I’ve seen. Initially, her only vocal concern - was her hair. She ended up having a fun time with the wigs, eventually realizing she’s still a total babe with the shortest of hair. She didn’t complain. I mean truly, didn’t complain. She didn’t ever express worry, discomfort or stress in nearly 6 years. And I don’t mean to imply she didn’t feel it - But she didn’t complain. She is just - so strong. Last year she came down with some kind of viral infection - she coughed and coughed and coughed. That cough was the first thing she ever complained about to me - and sweet dainty Robin told me she wished, “It would just fucking stop”.
My happiest memory of Robin was on the day Navy was born. She was sleeping in our basement when Johnny woke her up to alert them I was in labor. “It’s time” he told her. “TIME FOR WHAT, JOHN?” - her sleepy agitation gave them all a good laugh. She was in the room by my side (along with Tom and my parents and Jackson) when Navy made her entrance. Robin would come over to me and kiss my forehead. My doctor had told us video recording was not permitted, but renegade Robin recorded anyway. Johnny and I have watched that treasured video of Navy’s first moments more times than we can count. But the prize of the day was telling her that we were giving Navy “Robin” as a middle name. She kissed me right on the lips with tears in her eyes. My heart was as full as could be in that moment. Navy James Robin Thompson. And I have to say, we picked the right grandkid to bestow the Robin name. Navy is her miniature.
Robin has been an excellent Grandma. Excellent. Full of love and warmth and patience. She loved taking the kids on walks and seeing them explore the world. She read to them, played with them, sang with them. And FaceTimed with them, a lot!
I think back to all the visits ... We got a bit of flack for not having bars of soap or rolls of paper towels - and - especially for having a dirty microwave. The last time she came to visit was for Navy’s birthday. She told me I kept the house meticulously clean - and then she went to the microwave to clean it. (I laughed and laughed over this.)
She called me regularly to say hello. We had a silly phone-only ritual of calling each other “Mil” and “Dil”. (Short for mother and daughter in law) She always wanted to know how the kids were. She told me often that she thought I was a great Mom. I regret not calling her more often to tell her she was too.
We are here with her - making some final memories. I drank sips of Sambuca with her last night. She sang “Let It Go” with Navy and Wright. Jackson held her hand. Johnny is doting on her ... I’m witnessing true love all around her.
We enshrine the ones we love, and maybe sometimes we are too kind in doing so - though I feel certain this isn’t the case for Robin. Knowing her was fun. And great. And wonderful. All I know for sure, is that I’m going to miss the hell out of my Mil, my Mom, my Robin.