It’s been a season of change. The air is tinged with scents of my childhood, causing reflection of the changes over the years, not only of my own life, but those around me. I remember walking through the fields toward school, the brand new shoes chaffing blisters on my heels. There was always that trepidation. Would my clothes fit in with the current fall fashions? Would my friends still be my friends? Could I make it through the school year without having my mom as a substitute teacher? (No offense meant Mom!)
The girls have grown. Fiona has graduated from high school and will be starting college in a couple of short weeks. Shannon has begun high school. The start of school seems to me to be a beginning of the year. As with New Year resolutions it starts with high hopes and expectations. It usually crashes with reality into a whirlpool of chaos a short time later, but there are usually a few moments there where everything seems like we can do it.
I am in a between stage of life. Two teenagers and Dennis at home. My parents at the opposite spectrum of things. Both of them in their 80’s, they are still self sufficient and for the most part able to manage things quite well on their own. But the reality is that they are slowing down and the home of my childhood years has become more of a challenge for them. Then there are the bumps in the road. A shoulder surgery, a random fall. Recurring GI bleeds of unknown origin. I worry. I find myself caught between a rock and a hard space. Do I travel south for the weekend to help out the folks? Do I stay in Seattle to work on the maintenance of my own home and spend time with my family? There aren’t enough hours in the week for everything and I am trying to manage both. It isn’t a fun place.
I am finding that there are moments of treasure in these travels. Fiona has come with me for a couple of these trips. It is a delight to see her interact with her grandparents and hear stories retold. Like a breath of fresh air, she gives them a bit of different perspective, which I suspect goes both directions.
There was the epiphany that hit me out of nowhere. Papa was in the hospital and I realized that I really don’t know how to talk with my mother. Our conversations over the years have remained that half truce one obtains shortly after high school and it hasn’t ever evolved too much past that. I have worked hard to avoid that with my own children and treasure the conversations that have more substance than “How is the weather”. But I really don’t know how to talk with my own mother. It took a major act of courage on my part to just ask “How are you doing with Papa in the hospital?”
It has always been easier to talk to Papa because we have the same need to be outdoors and active. I enjoyed long walks with him as a child, and later we ran together when I was in high school
Life with my mother has always been different. There were music lessons, sewing lessons, learning to can and do domestic things. But it was always sprinkled with tempers that were easy to rise and escalate out of control at a moments notice. Hence the awkward truce. I need to step away from that stage. I want to be able to talk to my mother and listen to her stories. For I am sure that there are stories to tell and to be heard.