Where we are now. My mother’s cancer, which first reared its ugly head in 2010, has returned again to torture her. After she found out about it, and had surgery in December, my father had an “episode” with his heart, and had to be admitted to the hospital, just days after my mother was released. His treatment involved inserting stents, and then he, too, was released. They are both back at home, now, dealing with shuttling my mother down the hill every few days for chemotherapy.
They are 76. I am 1200 miles away, caught up in the ordered chaos that my life is right now. We have made plans to drive out to Northern California at the end of March to get married in Napa. Hopefully, there will be time to visit with them in their home, let them meet my fiancée, and attend my wedding. For my daughter’s sake, I hope we will fit in one day to drive down to Monterey and introduce my man to the ocean, my version of it, anyway. I hope there will be time.
I have no illusions that there is enough time. There is never enough time. I have actively done what I can to mend the relationships I have with my parents, knowing that it will remain imperfect, and that this may well be the last visit. Even if everything goes as best can be imagined, the reality of our lives keeps me attempting to stay as connected to them as I can by way of phone calls and emails. Having been in their home when my mother was sick before, I know that they really don’t want someone hovering around, trying to help. Private people, they prefer the aid of hired professionals, who efficiently go about their business, maintaining a friendly distance. Our relationship, such as it is, still contains so much imbalance, that everything I do for them they see as “too much.” It doesn’t prevent me entirely from sending them useful items and little things like flowers, but it keeps me from dropping everything here and booking a flight to insert myself into a situation where I’m really not wanted. I do not care what other people expect from me, the eldest daughter, while my parents struggle with their health issues. I know how I am perceived. I also know that my mother and I will not have the opportunities to have the conversations I wish we could have, the conversations I wish we had. My father and I barely have conversations any more, although we have a connection. I have accepted that I have the relationship with my parents that they can tolerate. It is what they can handle. It causes me deep sadness, but no longer the pain of the unresolved. At least I have had this much time.
If my work to understand and mend my life has taught me anything, it has taught me the importance of being my most authentic self. To act deliberately, to speak the truth, and to be vulnerable to being hurt in order to have open and healthy relationships. I am a good mother because I am doing it on purpose. I get that where we put our energy is what grows in our lives. I value my friends and appreciate my joyous moments. I take risks, I am persistent, I work hard to make my dreams come true, and I acknowledge my losses. No matter how many times life has knocked me down, I get back up. I give it another shot. I take another tack. I don’t give up. But I also don’t try to imitate a salmon, always swimming upstream, bashing itself against the rocks. Sometimes, you have to let the current determine where you’ll go. Trust that if you are making good choices, the right opportunities will present themselves.
I am in the midst of preparing my fiancé’s house to be sold, getting a new house built for us, participating in custody mediation, taking care of my daughter and going to work every day, and all of the details that fill our lives. I feel frustrated a lot of the time, that I can’t be everywhere and do everything, but mostly I feel grateful. I am grateful that there is so much that I have, that I am involved with, that needs me.