Odd how as children we think our own parents have always been and will always be as they are – whoever they are, whatever they’ve done. Our parents don’t see themselves that way, of course, and we don’t see ourselves that way when we become parents, but we continue to see them as a constant, a fixed mark. It’s security for us, well into our adulthood.
I adore history. I adore all things that help me understand why people are the way they are and why events occur the way they do, because what is has been affected by what was – deeply affected, at times.
That tells me my parents can’t always have been who they are, nor will they continue as they are. It’s not the way of nature.
Still, it has seemed to be the way for most of my life. I suppose as a child I may have been absorbed with my own growth and change and movement to notice much from my parents. Then again, it could be that growth and change and movement might be more drastic in our early years, subtler in our middle years, and then more drastic again as we age. Regardless, my parents have always been there, and I have always known how to get to them if I needed them.
After my oldest nephew was born, my mom was helping my sister can vegetables, or some such thing. I remember snapping green beans, and I must have had an attitude about it, because my mom said to me, “I didn’t have help from my mother when I had kids. I’m going to help your sister. When it’s your turn, I’ll help you, too.”
And even when my parents started talking about their retirement plans, I never thought there would be the kind of change that would render that statement improbable.
At the end of December, my mom was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Last month, she was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. It remains to be seen whether the two are related, but I’m losing my mom.
The reality is, she might not be there if I ever get married or have kids or any major life events.
Because this thing we call change … happens to our parents, too.
My parents are selling their house (which they bought eleven years ago) and taking off in an RV next week. I’m glad they get to travel because I know how much they love seeing history and life. Next year, they tell me they’re going to Alaska.
It’s a transition. I am coming to the understanding that I am only a part of their lives, and they are only a part of mine. A big part, undeniably, but there are and will be other parts outside of each other. Parts we will never see about each other, that we may have even wanted to share with each other. My relationship with my parents relationship is morphing from them encouraging my growth and change and movement to me encouraging their growth and change and movement, too.
So here’s a bittersweet cup raised to the unseen, unshared parts: a blessing to grow and change and move, wherever it takes us.