Yesterday, I was having coffee with a long time friend and as always, our conversation went all over the place because we had so much to catch up on. There was a part of the conversation that really caught my attention. She was talking about her Mother and Dad who are in their 90’s and on the precipice of needing some assistance in their daily living. They live in Arizona where they moved many, many years ago. My friend was struggling with some of the upcoming decisions needing to be made and it was apparent that the geography between them was complicating the issues. She said with emotion, “they left us, we didn’t leave them”. She also said that when her parents come to Minnesota to visit, they expect everyone to drop everything they are doing to spend time with them, not taking into account that the people they left behind have lives to live and schedules to keep. I know she was just venting because we all get stressed when dealing with our parents aging related issues….It can be a real energy zapper. I would say that every one of us who has dealt with aging parents has hit the wall at one point or another. My friend has always been extremely good to her parents in so many ways. It is just the nature of the beast. I was making mental notes as the conversation continued. Life has a way of handing us messages and lessons through conversations with our friends.
The conversation stayed with me because I started to wonder about the possibility of family feeling this way about our visits back home. In all truth, I don’t let go of relationships easily because each friendship is so important to me. I always want to make sure my friends know they matter to me. I know…it is a quirk of mine, but it is how I am put together. Moving to Texas wasn’t really what we wanted to do, but at the same time, we didn’t feel we had another option! The changes in upper management at the company where my husband was employed was making it obvious that his job was at risk of being eliminated. We decided we needed to leave behind what was supposed to be our final home, and the small town we were in, and get to a larger city in his territory just to be where we would have other options in employment should he lose his job. As it turned out, we made the right decision because he lost his high level job within 3 years of our move. Because we were now in a large city, he was able to find alternate employment. The down side was that our oldest son, though still single, decided not to follow us to Texas because he said “I am a 4 seasons kind of guy”. Texas wasn’t for him. That was a huge disappointment for me, but I respected his feelings.
So, our new life began! Over all, it has been a very, very good life, but like the proverbial stone thrown into a still lake, the move created many ripples from the initial plunge. We left behind our son, extended family, life long friends, and everything that was familiar to us. One of the deepest tendencies in my nature is to hang on to the familiar so we just keep coming back north to visit and stay engaged with long time friends. Naturally, we have a desire to be a part of our sons families’ life because we want a relationship with our granddaughters, so that is first and foremost on our mind when we come back. The bonus, when we come to visit them, comes to us where we have a plethora of family and friends we can see while here. We can’t see everyone because of time constraints, but we will usually choose who we connect with based on those who express interest in getting together.
As she was talking about her parents, I found myself wondering if our son felt the same way as she did. Did he see our move as us leaving HIM, when we left Minnesota? I have talked with him about the move so many times and explained as best I could that while we chose to make the move, it wasn’t a choice we made easily, nor one we even really wanted to make, and we were extremely sad to leave him behind. He has always seemed very nonplussed by the whole thing. He was already a teacher when we left. Now he is in a good career, has a great wife and children, and for the most part, seems very happy because his life is very, very full. Yet, I feel obligated to hold onto the guilt factor none the less.
Coming back here to visit has been so nice because we can stay in touch with friends we once had. However, now I think……do some people feel as if we “expect” them to drop everything when we come home? I have never thought of it that way before, and we certainly do not expect anything of the sort. Generally speaking, we just like to touch base with those we care about and enjoy. Maybe this constant visiting in the north has stood in the way of our fully living our life in Texas. God knows we love where we live. We LOVE where we live, but that doesn’t mean we don’t love where we used to live as well.
Moving forward….this is what life is all about. All my life I have read and heard that one should bloom where we are planted, that we are NOT to live in the past, and that we should not look at the road behind but to the road ahead. I think this discussion about my friends parents (innocently on her part), was somehow meant as a message to me (to live more fully in the life we are NOW in). As difficult as it has always been for me to let go, I feel I need to break that particular habit and proceed to enjoy my life in the present without guilt hovering at the edges of my psyche’. I love a well known phrase that goes like this…
“YESTERDAY IS HISTORY,
TOMORROW IS A MYSTERY,
TODAY IS A GIFT ,
WHICH IS WHY WE CALL IT THE PRESENT!
Amen and AMEN to that! I shall work on concentrating on the gift of today. We did what we needed to do long ago and it is time to make peace with it! I mostly live in “the day” these days anyway, but it never hurts to be reminded that this moment is all we are sure of and it should be spent looking to the future, not the past.