Walt Disney was a lying sack of shit.
Allow me to explain.
About seventeen years ago, my father got remarried to a woman named Sharon. At that point in my life, though, I was fully grown and had moved out on my own so he, she and I never lived under the same roof. My immediate expectation, though, when my father entered into this new chapter of his life was that I was allegedly getting something that years of Walt’s animated films had taught me to expect: a wicked stepmother.
It took time to learn that the propaganda perpetuated by the House of Mouse was grossly misinformed… at least in my case.
First off: Sharon Croom wasn’t my stepmother since she never raised me. More importantly, she never tried to be. She respected who I was in relation to our shared family connections and never attempted to impose more than a very close and loving friendship. She loved my dad and (by extension) expressed her love for me. She was genuine, honest, and a very caring person who loved me without knowing me more than the occasional communication and visits and through the stories from my dad.
She was an amazing woman.
Aside from not being (or trying to be) my “stepmother” – Sharon was far from being a wicked person. The moment she met my girlfriend over a decade ago (now my wife) she embraced her as an immediate part of the family. Sharon had a gift of being family without the need to impose the actions for forcing a family relationship on me.
Here’s my favorite example/memory of this: Each year, Sharon would make it her mission to impress me on Christmas. She did so not by the seeking out the most expensive or gaudy gift she could, but by genuinely putting time, thought, and research into something she honestly believed I wouldn’t expect and would (at the same time) be impressed by.
Before they were commonplace technology, USB drives (originally called a “disk on key”) were rare and hard to come by. Sharon knew I was a tech nerd and had stumbled upon this new gadgetry.
That Christmas I opened a 128 MB (yes… MB) “disk-on-key.” I had no idea what is was when I opened it, but when I read the documentation I was amazed, impressed, and thankful.
This was the type of woman she was; a person who shared her love by understanding the complexity of love and relationships. She was an amazing woman and I am glad that she was a part of mine and Shannon’s lives and (most importantly) the woman who loved my father.
A couple of weeks ago, my father called me while I was in a business trip to Atlanta and informed me that Sharon had cancer and it was diagnosed as terminal. No one expected things to move as quickly as they did, though, at that point.
Last Thursday, dad called me (before I left the country for the weekend) to let me know that hospice was on their way to the house to assess Sharon’s condition.
When I got back in the states on Sunday, I got word that the doctors had given Sharon less than two weeks. I made arrangements with my office and drove to St. Petersburg, Florida (where they live) the next afternoon. By the time Shannon and I got there, Sharon had already been moved to a local hospice center.
The doctors had shifted her time frame to less than 48 hours.
We spent Tuesday with her, my dad, and her children (Jack and Whitney.) Sometimes, when you know there’s nothing that can be done, just being there is the most important thing in the world.
I’m sitting in their house typing this and sharing in the memories of a woman who touched my life, my father’s, and countless others. Being here you can feel that this house was always one filled with love thanks to her.
May she rest in peace.