If I read one more stuffed shirt magazine article commending people my age for caring for their family I’ll need a barf bag! Yes, the world has changed a lot since Wally and Beaver snuck cookies, and got lost in the sarcastic soft soap Eddie cleaned up with, but seriously? What is with all this you’re a good woman Charlene Brown crap? If you’ve been blessed with a family, that means you care and when they age you are there. After they are gone you realize what the word really meant, and why it rhymes with share.
I raised three beautiful daughters who took their own paths of success. Two even sent me souvenir grandchildren from their journey, that have “visited” with me since they were born. I delight in teaching them projects and recipes; hunting for bugs, playing with cars and applying makeup in grand Disney style, while my daughters go into the world making life better for their own little people. I savor the moments that better my life in the process. It reminds me why I became a mother, who I am as a person and how making a difference is only a touch or hug away.
My parents aged almost to 100, which says a lot for who they were. We never had much materialistically, but there was food on the table, clothes on our backs, love in their hearts and a smile on the lips, which incidentally was every time we walked in or out of the house. Those are blessings, and they were sandwiched between the same stress, life and happiness we still experience ow. The only difference is back then was we called it a family, everyone had one and no one thought it was special.
After being a professional in business, married, divorced and raising children into their teens, I also began to care for aging parents that were frustrated more at what they viewed as an inconvenience in my life, than a failing in their own. That’s what family does, they care for each other first, only later discovering they are the ones missing buttons with worn places no longer Velveteen. I wouldn’t trade the laughter and tears in those years for anything. Misspoken words, jokes at the wrong time, hugs at all the right times and memories, necessary need to feel them near my broken heart. That is after all what love is about.
Years ago when I was in my office, my father needed to go to the hospital. The person I worked for had no concept of a family, and would have been first in line at the overused Sandwich Deli Commentary. He told me to call Dad a cab. I’ll never forget that day, the fact dad came home okay, told a dirty joke to the nurses I’m sure they still laugh over, and how he amazed people with what eighty plus years old could be if taken seriously, loved and wanted.
Likewise, one of the last batches of cookies mom made before passing at 92 were small clay miniatures made into ornaments. She wanted to insure her family always had her for holidays. She also designed her memorial card years before passing with that same thought. She wanted not an overused prayer, but a very worn sugar cookie recipe, praying her warm love would continue being held in an empty hand in years to come.
Life is a journey and a gift, nothing you stick in a bag with chips. So many we know never had a chance to have one, or left way before the party finished. Our duty is to allow the soul to grow and experience life, which isn’t done behind the counter of life’s fast food me track. Those of us who have had the chance to emotionally remember smiles and stories are better for it, and there never will be a category or generation demographic for it. Although according to a recent commercial there is an entire industry called “A Place For Mom,” which will help you stick her somewhere. I know that place – I called it my family, and whoever came up with that horrid marketing tagline deserves a time out of epic proportions! Maybe that also explains the need for overly prescribed antidepressants and anxiety drugs for people unsure of their own place in life, something that got lost along with dinner at a kitchen table.
I think about my parents a lot since passing fifty, ache in all the right places and have gray hairs in all the wrong ones. I miss them, especially at meals thinking how mom was always proud and dad satisfied. Our conversation would keep time with a small black and white television watching Walter Cronkite. Oh Walter, that really was the way it was, they way it should be and at my house the way it still is. I’m sure my daughters will read this and who knows, maybe we will also reminisce and laugh, and maybe when we do it will be over a BLT, because after all that was Mom’s favorite sandwich.