Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Things I Would Say to My Parents

When I flipped my calendar over to March a couple of weeks back, it struck me with a little bit of a surprise that this March will usher in the third anniversary of my mom's death.  The same mother whose care was strenuous and stressful enough to cause me to create this blog.  She's gone, but the blog lives on.  Ironic (since I haven't used that word in at least a couple of hours - maybe a record for me).

But, the fact that I was so surprised that it had already been three years was what really struck me.  Because it seems like forever ago that Kelsey died - like I've been away from her for half a lifetime, even though there were really only a few months between the two events.  What I've decided about the difference in perception is that when my daughter died so did our lives for a time.  Time wore on, but had no joy, no meaning, no purpose.  It just existed - something to endure.  After Mom died, so much suddenly started happening so fast, with all of it ending up landing us all in Pittsburgh, that I feel at times like we were Dorothy being whisked away from Kansas and landing in Oz, only with a black and yellow brick road.

That's not to say that I didn't and don't mourn my mom, but I will confess to a release in a way - there's just no denying it - because there was suddenly no one who needed our immediate and intensive care taking.  And, the naked reality of it is that some of the reflecting a personality like mine would have done after burying a parent was lost in the hefty shadow of losing a daughter, coupled with the mad dash to shut down not only Mother's affairs, but mine as well and move clear across the country.  So, here I am, three years later, looking at a calendar, wondering where the time went.  I think Mother would be hurt - just honestly - that she didn't merit a higher degree of mourning.  I think she would mistake the flurry of action as a lack of sadness.  I would like her to know that's not the case at all, but it was a great coping mechanism, which led me to think that there are actually a lot of things I would say to both my parents if I had a chance, so why not take that opportunity now to say at least a few of them?  So, here goes...

To Dad:  I don't know if I said this ever to you, but if I did, I certainly didn't say it enough, but thank you so much for your service to the country.  I know it happened before I was even born, but you were part of a generation that fought and sacrificed to give my generation a good life.  And it was.  Maybe I whined a lot about the things I didn't have:  a phone in my room, a color TV in my room, a better stereo, but the reality is that you gave me everything I really needed and, truly, wanted.  And that was warmth, shelter, food and love - in your own way.  I know we puzzled one another very often.  I grew up in a far different time than you had and embodied the rebellion of my generation, and that, I think, was something you were not particularly prepared to deal with well, and I never took the time to understand that about you for my part.  My largest regret, as a matter of fact, is that I never truly understood the weight you carried with you everyday - the trauma the war left you with.  As a matter of fact, it would be years after you were gone before I think I got a handle on exactly how large of a factor  it was for you.  I wish so much I could have been more sensitive to that when you were alive.  I wish I could have helped you more.

I think the thing I most want you to know is that you are the largest single influence in my life.  That's both bad and good, I have to confess, but everything I am and do is a direct result of the values that you instilled in me:  work hard to support your family.  That was something above all you always did, no matter what else was going on in your own head - you made sure we did not want for things.  I appreciate that a lot - and I never told you that.

To Mom:  First, let me just say that I really wish I had let you make a wedding dress for me.  When the very perfect dress fell in my lap so to speak (vintage, velvet with a cathedral train and a sentimental meaning - Greg's mom's dress), I felt it was like a miracle, but I never stopped to think what it would mean to you, an accomplished seamstress, to make your only child her dress.  I was so young and dumb, there is actually a whole lot about our wedding I would do differently now, but that's the big thing.  I know that always upset you, and it bothers me that I was so insensitive about it.

In general, I kept a lot of secrets from you (not telling you I was pregnant until my second trimester for instance because I was scared if something happened it would be too traumatic), and I'm sorry about that.  I thought I had a noble purpose each and every time, but I never gave you a real chance to be a full part of my adult life as a result.  I think the exception to that was the first few years after Dad died.  We were close then, and I treasure that time.  I hope you do too.

The biggest thing to tell you is that having gotten to know your family a little and realizing what awesome people they all are, I know that you sacrificed a lot to live so far from them.  I suspect you did it in large part to keep the secret of my birth exactly that:  a secret.  You know by now that I am upset and sometimes angry about not knowing my true history, but what I realize is that you believed so strongly that it was something I should NOT be told that you held that secret tightly all your life and sacrificed a lot to keep it that way.  I know you did that out of real true love.

What I would say to both of them:  like many families, we had our ups and downs, but I know you loved me and did your very best for me.  I want to thank you for that.  I love you both - time does not change that.

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