My parents have come to visit.
Nearly 2 years ago, after living within a 20-mile radius of me my entire, adult life, my parents flew the coop and moved south for the summer…and the winter… and the summer… and the winter. I wrote about their exodus in “Call of the Wild Hair.”
This fine spring they’ve returned, and for 6 days our family has been enjoying their company. Catching up on stories new and old, laughing and witnessing them bicker over who gets to try to climb out of the back seat of my little sports car. “Do you want to take the SUV?” I offer. “No!” they chirp, “I want to try to get out of it (the sports car) again!” They are finding their agile wings…getting ready to fly south again.
Many years ago, I asked my mother to explain the advantages of getting older. She flatly told me, “(there’s) Nothing…you just get older.” Well, from where she sits, maybe it feels that way. Some of the changes that come with age can be hard to swallow. Physically, we aren’t as quick and strong as we once were, mentally, some forgetfulness creeps in… and don’t even bring up technology. My parents are pretty tech savvy. My father was one of the original programmers who worked on developing the DOS program…if you’re too young to know what that is, you might want to “Google it.”(smirk) But, I’ve spent a good portion of our visit drawing schematics and resetting passwords to sort out my mother’s multiple Facebook accounts. Yes – she Facebooks…and I’m beaming with pride.
Regarding that aging business, I’ve noticed some positive things that may have slipped by my parents. Here are my observations, and maybe assumptions, about getting older:
1. There is much joy in recollecting sweet moments of one’s lifetime.
2. Being in the moment is pretty much a done deal…you’re forced to slow down enough to smell the roses.
3. Appreciating the small things – the young family of birds in the nest outside the window, blooming hydrangeas, the subtle communication of puppies and the music of children’s laughter.
4. The joy of a birthday party – whether it’s for our dog (yes, we had one of those) or for my Mother (we had one of those, too) – any cause is a good excuse for a celebration.
5. Still caring about appearance, but not enough to shut yourself away because of a pimple – think back to being 14 – yes, well, you just don’t do that at 78, you live your life more BOLDLY than before. (At least my parents do).
6. There’s a camaraderie and forgiveness that goes with spending several decades with a life partner.
7. Spirits do not grow old.
As for me, I’m finding life, ties, time and stories to be sweeter than ever before. While my parents went out with their friends, I did their laundry. I was grateful for the gentle folding and delivery of freshly laundered clothes and remembered the times they’d done it for me. It feels good to give back to my parents, and it’s interesting that subtle turning of the tables. I realize this may not be the experience of all my readers, but my parents are jewels and I realize, I’m very lucky.
So, as they prepare to fly the coup tomorrow, I’m again facing an empty nest. I can’t say it’s any easier than the first time, but it carries a sweet depth that tethers our souls to our lives and reminds us what’s important. It’s important to have family or those close ties with people we love, it’s important to remain connected to those people, and it’s also important to give those people room to live their own lives in ways that allow their hearts to break into song. Also, plane tickets…plane tickets and frequent flyer miles are important.
It’s interesting, the gentle tug of war between holding on and letting go. (click to Tweet). The juxtaposition between the gifts we give and those we receive – and the fact they may not be the gifts we expect, or sometimes even appreciate. The meaning of it all is starting to mish-mash for me, into one big thing, like the realization of what is real in the world, and at the same time while it stings, it is also exhilarating and feels like the essence of being and the very reason we are alive. I realize that’s probably one of the most poorly crafted, incoherent, run on sentences you’ve ever had to read, but implore you to be gentle with me and please try to consider it, sort of, poetry. Perhaps, in time, the words will come to me, but later today, the sting will come…yet still…
I’m so grateful to still be learning new things from my parents.
Giving permission to us both,
Michelle Andres is a writer and artist. She writes this blog to share tips for a well-lived life and a finely run art business…just for you!
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