Sometimes it takes more than the distance of one generation for us to realize the good our parents did.
As young parents, we learned very quickly about the importance of making sure our daughters had their basic needs addressed. Food, love, shelter and encouragement were sufficient. We understood our responsibility to drive them to various lessons and play dates; and we oversaw their homework.
I know “if I could do it all over again,” I would spend more one-on-one time with each of them. With our guidance and that of many others, they have grown into caring parents who place their children first and everything else follows that value.
During a recent visit from our youngest grandson — who is at the age when he wants to be independent, but is not really ready; who answers questions with a “yes” or “no” and becomes annoyed if we ask for further detail; who can turn a well-meaning comment into an opportunity for debate, I realized how typical and normal his behavior is as he works to create his own space in this vast and complex world. I wondered how my father survived my brother and me, and my two sisters.
A number of very positive memories of my father flashed through my mind as Shirley and I talked about our time with Jake. Facetiously, I told Shirley it cost more money to feed this growing football linebacker than it did to fly him to our winter hideaway. That opened a window to my past and a keener awareness of what my father did for me and my brother as we went through (slowly) our surly teen years.
Years ago on a weekend home from graduate school, I saw my brother’s rude and disrespectful interchange with my father. I turned to Poppa and asked, “Why do you take that from him?” And my father responded, “I survived you! I’ll survive him, too!” In less than a second, I was knocked off my princely throne and became a mere mortal.