Wow. I woke up thinking about how quickly the past 10 years have gone since my daughter was born in 2005. It made me think of someone else’s daughter, who seems so grown up at 21, but who was just 11 in 2005. Just a kid, like my girl now. In a flash, another 10 years will fly by. I’ll be in my 50’s and my daughter will be 20. What is the story I’d like to tell about my life and hers then?
My neighbor has just changed her story. She just moved away three days ago to Charlottesville after living in our area her entire life. She turned 50 last summer. This winter she quit her job and started decluttering and packing up her house. Slowly, she started working on rallying her family in her campaign to move. She just barely got everyone onboard about a month or so ago. Her house is now sold. She turned 51 yesterday in her new pad down in Charlottesville.
Yesterday evening was one of those phenomenally gorgeous summer evenings. I laid on the hammock and stared at the blue sky with puffy clouds. The leaves of the tall trees above me were dancing in salutation to the heavens. It brought me back to time spent on the Eastern Shore at my dad’s place on so many similar summer evenings.
It’s kind of sad that my dad is no longer on the Eastern Shore by the picturesque little bayside town.
Now it’s like he is stranded in an old suburban house in a it’s-time-has-come-and-gone neighborhood in Florida. He knows no one, except his 91 year old mom he shares the house with. He is not really able to work and his eyesight is not so hot. He has other health issues. He will probably never spend another summer on the Eastern Shore. He is in the in-between land, not living his story. It’s the fade out story… the dwindling no-story, wasting time away underutilized in a pseudo world. The one positive is that he is keeping sweet grandma company and caring for her. That was the impetus of his move and sudden retirement… to care for his mom.
Or maybe that’s harsh. I’m rethinking my description. Perhaps the optimist in me could spin it that he is pleasantly winding down, spending his golden years in the company of his incredibly delightful and spirited mom. Taking it easy.
However, he didn’t just leave behind the summer evenings of the Eastern Shore, the crab feasts, the small talk with locals he’s known for decades, fishing on his boat, and the ability to earn a living – and with it – a bit of his identity. He left two teenage adopted children behind.
Who needs him more, his aging mother, or his two teenagers? Good question really. How capable is he of extolling virtues and mentoring a boy who has fully hit the rocky shores of being 17? I know how my other brothers might answer this story.
My dad started having kids pretty young. I’m the first of his kids, he had me around 22. Then came my brother. Then my parents moved on from each other. Then my dad had round two with an artist… two more baby boys were born around a decade after me.
Another decade or so later, he met Becky. She came from an enormous family, yet she had trouble having kids. She is just 9 years older than me. Like a big sister, she became my confidant and buddy. We shared books and hit Sunday morning yoga classes together.
Becky. She’s amazing – long, lean, tan, strong. A woman who can cook anyone’s pants off and then go climb a ladder and get on a roof, install windows, build some cabinets, or even a whole damn house. She makes her own soap and can tell a good story.
But Becky needed a couple of kids to call her own so she and my dad set out to adopt a kid or two from Russia. They came back with this amazing two year old boy who had this sparkle in his eyes and a funny old sense of humor and you just got this feeling he was an old soul who had been around the block a few times. Later they went back for a daughter. A quiet, watchful, easy going girl.
But back to the boy. He’s in high school now. He’s gotten into trouble a lot. Becky looks at him and see’s her own reflection and weaknesses amplified. But isn’t that what most parents do? She’s worried that he is in an aimless and destructive pattern. Parenting him solo has caught up with her. And there’s my dad, down in Florida, in fade-out land.
What a world we live in. I don’t know how this story ends yet with the boy. I can only say, it’s not a new story. That time of life is tumultuous for many. I’m going to believe that the spark in his eyes will shine again and get him through.
But really, does the story ever end? The stories live on regardless of whether we do or not. Our stories weave into the fabric of the stories of our offspring and those around us, just continuing and repeating and continuing and repeating. And the world keeps turning. It just makes me think, am I dreaming, or am I awake? Sometimes it all feels so foggy, like such an illusion.