Monday, September 16, 2013

The Trio

The nurse pushes open the heavy doors and motions us through. My mom stuffs her book into her purse and stands even as I gather everything else to follow her back to my dad’s recovery area. The nurse leads us to his bedside and methodically reads aloud his post- surgical instructions. He smiles, awake but still faintly woozy as a doctor assures us all has gone well in this procedure needed for a larger surgery the following week.

It is just the three of us together this day, a rare configuration in our now large family. Then the feeling starts somewhere in between my shoulders and flutters shyly up each vertebrae, so softly and gently I first can’t identify it. But like a half remembered dream, it takes simple structure.

From my birth ( their firstborn) until the coming of my sister ( their second born) 15 months later, it had been just the three of us: my mom, my dad, and me. My earliest memories stretch back to this time of just the trio, and the feeling blooms into a warm satisfaction as I pin it down and recognize it; how it felt on the maidenhead voyage of the family. I roll it around and savor it as we load the car.

My mom does not like to drive in big city traffic and my dad is still under the effects of anesthesia, so I drive them through town to an IHOP where my dad looks forward to ending his surgical fast.

Although their hard work has given them a very comfortable lifestyle, they are both delighted this place offers a generous senior citizen discount. And no, the waitress tells my dad, although I am retired now, I cannot qualify for a senior citizen’s discount until I am 55.  I smile, mostly to myself, and watch them interact.

The joking back and forth and the wry give and take between them have been honed for over 53 years. I realize with a start that they are both older than my grandparents were when I first started thinking of them as elderly.

My mom hands me her tea glass, imploring me to take a sip, just to see if it tastes right, and I notice the crook in the first joint of her index finger is now also mine. My dad makes a play on words just as the same pun comes into my mind, chuckling at his own joke in a laugh that could be the blueprint of my own.

We stand to leave and  gather things again, but not before my mom has tried to get me to eat food from her plate because she doesn't think my salad was enough, while my dad checks the ticket carefully, ensuring the discount for the two of them has been correctly applied.

As I pull the keys from my purse, my mom pats my shoulder and thanks me again for the help I’ve given them today; tells me for the umpteenth time she doesn’t know what they’d do without me.

The reality, though, is that although our family is now grown large and I once fiercely fought for my independence from these two, I still don’t know what I’d do without them.

86 comments:

  1. It must be a strange feeling when you sit down and look at your parents and can see yourself growing into them. I mean, thinking the same jokes, saying similar things, having the same types of scars or crooked joints etc. And now as the tables turn as they age, you slowly end up doing all the things they use to once upon a time do for you.

    All their hard work and sacrifices to raise a family is now paying off in a good way, so to speak. Now's the time to cherish every precious moment you can with them.

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    1. Rum Punch Drunk: You are right, it is so strange at how the roles are being reversed more and more. I suppose that is the circle of life. And cherish each precious moment? Absolutely, absolutely!

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  2. Shelly quite interesting. Thank you for sharing. Blessings.

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    1. Just Be Real: Thank you for stopping by, my friend!

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  3. family really is something amazing. thank you for sharing. xx

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    1. Michelle: Family is the center of all that there is- thank you!
      xo

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  4. I love this, Shelly. The way you describe the feeling creeping up your shoulders was perfect. I remember the moment I noticed my mother and I fold our hands in prayer the same way, and I delighted as an adult when my father and I would land on the same joke at the same time. Thank you for letting us into your day with your parents, and I hope your father's second procedure goes just as smoothly as the first!

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    1. Amy: Thank you so much my friend, and the second surgery was yesterday, a knee replacement, which went very well. It's a good feeling, recognizing so much of our parents in ourselves, isn't it?

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  5. I have really began noticing sgtrong similarities between my sister and my mother...they're becoming the same person! When I tell my sister this, she says "no we're not!!" but I think it's just because she's in denial :)

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    1. Optimistic: No matter how hard we try to run from it, the inevitable truth is we carry more of our parents within us that we ever realize~

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  6. Oh Shelly Shelly this beautiful piece of writing of your well captured moment has me crying like a baby. This one I understand more than I can tell you. I do hope your father is doing well.You have touched a part of my heart that needed to know I am not alone. Thank you. Give your Mom and Dad a hug for me. Your writing blows me away with the emotions it pulls. HUGS B

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    1. Buttons: It really is a time of life so difficult to describe until you've lived it. Thank you, my friend, and hugs back to you!

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  7. Hello, dear Shelly! In a way I can relate to this even though I was the second child. I came along 10 and a half years after my brother and he was grown, out of the house and in the Air Force when I was still relatively young, leaving me feeling very much like an only child.

    I am reminded of the song by Spanky and Our Gang, "Making Every Minute Count." Treasure every one of these moments, dear Shelly. Be thankful you have both of your parents and remember that many children start life with just one or even none at all. Be thankful you are still too young to receive a seniors discount at the pancake house (and probably still get carded at places that serve alcohol) and remember how young someone in her early 50s seems to those of us in our mid 60s and beyond. Be thankful for every opportunity to inconvenience yourself to help your parents and remember how much inconvenience and sacrifice they willingly invested in making you who and what you are today.

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    1. Shady: Such true words, my friend. I do think that song is so fitting. It's so easy to take for granted out parents and all the things they do when we are young, but it becomes so much clearer, and more poignant, as age moves along. Have a wonderful week there in your beautiful part of the world.

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  8. Too often we do not realize the blessing our parents are. You are blessed to have the opportunity now to appreciate who they are and all they mean to you. (Even as you "become" your parents.)

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    1. vanilla: I do feel incredibly blessed, more and more each day. So many things to be thankful for~

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  9. You're lucky to have both your parents here beside you still. I lost my mother years ago, and then my father passed a short four years after she did. Thing is, no matter if they're here physically I can still be by their side in my memory and thoughts. And your post brought many memories back!!

    It was bitter-sweet!! And I understood and felt every word you wrote!! I was there with you.

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    1. ...that should be "not here" physically.

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    2. HOOTIN ANNI: Your words are so true- our thoughts and memories hold them eternally. And yes, I understand exactly how something can be bittersweet now, something I didn't completely "get" before.

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    3. Dear Hootin Anni, I lost my dad to cancer, and cherish those memories of him...but I love what you say about being by their side in your memory AND thoughts. Somehow I think the relationship continues on after a passing.

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    4. Dear Hootin Anni, I lost my dad to cancer, and cherish those memories of him...but I love what you say about being by their side in your memory AND thoughts. Somehow I think the relationship continues on after a passing.

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  10. I went thru the same exact feelings. Somehow you just do. sandie

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    1. Sandie: Part of that great circle that's hard to understand when you're young-

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  11. I love this warm and sweet story, Shelly. You are such a great writer, and a wonderful daughter!

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  12. Dear Shelly, this is a touching story of the dawning realization of mortality and vulnerability. My mom died when she was 58 and I was 32; Dad died when he was 69 and I was 39. Both deaths were sudden. Unexpected. I didn't get to say good-bye to either one of them and I hadn't ever asked the questions about their lives that I would ask today.

    I'm so glad for you that you are aware they are aging and that you--as the oldest child--have a special place in the family. And I am so glad for you also that gratitude fills your heart when you think of your parents. Gratitude it seems to me is a gift to cherish throughout the journey we take with parents and spouses and friends and children. As we age, we are blessed to discover that life gives us gifts no matter where we are on our journey. Like the gift of a meal at IHOP with your parents. Peace.

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    1. Dee: I am so sorry you didn't have your parents here with you longer, and that it was unexpected both times. I do know that what they sowed into you still bears fruit today in the shining light you beam.

      I do feel such a flood of gratitude and I am thankful every day. Now that my life has slowed a bit in retirement, I enjoy just thinking about all the goodness I am blessed with in my life. And the unexpected treats, like an IHOP meal.

      Thank you, my friend~

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  13. Sometimes we don't realize how wonderful it is to have kind, loving parents. This is a lovely story!

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    1. Sherry: It is one of life's greatest gifts! Thank you~

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  14. Hi Shelly. I really enjoyed this post about your dear mum and dad. It really is so special to have been brought up in a loving family environment. Not everyone has this and I feel sad for them. I was an only child and my parents were older when they had me, although they had been trying for a baby for sixteen years! I lost my dad when I was 32 and my mum when I was 49, and I miss them every single day. I so wish that they were still here with me. You are blessed indeed my friend, and I know that you do know that. Lovely post!

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    1. thisisme: Your words make me appreciate my blessings all the more. And what lovely, wonderful parents you had (and still do).

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  15. Hopefully, it will be a long time before you'll have to do without them. The love in your post is palpable.

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    1. Stephen: Yes, a very, very long time~

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  16. Ahh, Shelly. A warm, almost amber-tinted snapshot of just one perfect point in time in your world.

    That was lovely.

    Please pass the syrup.

    Pearl

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    1. Pearl: These old snapshots are the best, aren't they?

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  17. Beautifully put together, Shelly! A lovely reminder that with each new day, all of us grow older...

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    1. Linda: Growing older is such a beautiful process, and I don't think I've realized it until lately. Thank you~

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  18. Awww, Shelly. What a beautiful post. I feel the same way about my parents. Even though I know it is inevitable I can't imagine life without them. Reading this brought to mind a favorite little poem that I read on a wall hanging once:
    "Mirror mirror on the wall. I am my mother after all."

    P.S. Your writing is so wonderful! You have a real gift.

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    1. Felt Family: Oh, that is such a cute saying, and so, so true! I love seeing the pics of your parents and their wonderful, large family. And thank you~

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  19. Beautiful written Shelly! I had no idea that relationships like you have with your parents truly existed until I started my own family. Better late than never, right?

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    1. Pat: And what a wonder it is to construct a loving family when you've not had a guide to go by. That's amazing and a tribute to you and your wife!

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  20. That's beautiful, Shelly. My parents have been gone such a long time, but I still miss them. I foolishly spent years trying to get away from them.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie: I did the same, but I'm so thankful I have time still. Your parents live on in you, and what a treasure that is. Thank you~

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    2. All I have to do is look at Favorite Young Man and I see my dad.

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    3. Janie: And what a beautiful wonder that is~

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  21. Awwwwww, the love is so evident in your story. A day in the life. A beautiful life.

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  22. Sweet moments as your family of three is recreated. Are you really retired and so young? I am retired and greatly enjoy it.

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    1. Terra: Yes, I had 29 year of service and this was my first year to be eligible, so I jumped at it. It's been wonderful!

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  23. So beautifully expressed, Shelly. And congrats on the early retirement, too. :)

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    1. Rita: Thank you! And although I still feel young, it's regular retirement age for public school teaching in Texas. I'm thankful for that!

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  24. I love this so much:-) I have never known what it felt like to have my parents to myself. We have always been very extended:-) But I have had these moments of grace with them, and now that they have both passed on, and the worst of the sadness has passed, it derive a lot of warmth from remembering those small moments. Thanks for reminding me.

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    1. The Chicken's Consigliere: Very well said, and I understand that so well. Thank you~

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  25. This is a beautiful story. I was like you when I was younger I wanted to get away from my parents, but now my dad is gone and I can't imagine my life without my mom. Your writing is so lovely!!!

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    1. Dawn: I'm so glad the foolishness of youth is still redeemable. I'm so glad you have your sweet mom. And thank you!

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  26. I'm glad this particular procedure for your dad went smoothly; so glad you were able to be there to help them out and spend time with them. Treasure the time with them, as I know you do.

    betty

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    1. betty: Thank you- it went well and hopefully he will be home sometime next week. I'm learning to savor each moment now~

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  27. Dearest Shelly,
    "The Trio" You wrote really beautifully how much you are loved by your parents and love them. Your father must trying very hard to be brave as a husband and father. I DO remember my mother was trying to show dignity especially for us her children when she was fighting cancer. Haha, you made me cry again today, my dear friend. I am truly relieved to read that your father's surgery went well. Sept. 15th was Aged People's Day here in Japan. I thank my father being still with us whatever the condition he has now. As a daughter, I am trying my best to meet my mother's unspoken wish to help him and tried my best for my brother. And I respect you and your parents being "The Trio"
    Lots of Love and Hugs to my dearest American friend; Night Night from Japan. Miyako*

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    1. orchid Miyako: Oh, my dear friend, your words moved me. You are such a wonderful daughter to your parents, and I know your sweet mom would be so pleased with the wonderful care you are taking of your dad. I am thankful I have my brother and sisters and lots of family here to help, as well. Your father is a tremendous blessing and you show such love and honor in all you do for him.
      xo-

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  28. Oh Shelly. I too am the oldest by about 2 years and I think I must really have cherished being the only child for that period of time because my first memory of my sister is crying over her being there!! How sad! LOL
    Your last statement: "The reality, though, is that although our family is now grown large and I once fiercely fought for my independence from these two, I still don’t know what I’d do without them." This is moving to me because I remember fighting for my independence, too. And now, I have been missing them for over 25 years. Enjoy every moment you have with them.

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    1. Nonnie: I have a similar memory of when my brother was born! And what you say is so true. The time passes so much more quickly than we can comprehend, and it is too soon gone. The things that used to irritate me I now find endearing, and my thought every time I am with them is to live it fully and enjoy it completely.

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  29. When is it, and how, that we pass from determined independence back to closeness? I have been thinking of this a lot lately as my adult children are both in different places on this path.

    As usual, you have made me think, and also let me know I am far from being the only one to be on my own journey. What a beautiful post, Shelly.

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    1. jenny_o: It's a wonderment to me how that gently boomeranging cycle of life happens before we even realize what it actually is. I'm glad the closeness comes back. I, too, am heartened that so many of us are on this same journey. Thank you~

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  30. Time is fleeting, and the older we get, the quicker it goes! Enjoy your parents and treasure every moment with them.

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  31. Dear Shelly -- you paint pictures of scenes I never experienced, and I feel the loss.

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  32. Funny how things come around in a circle. Wonderful, thanks Shelly!

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    1. Lydia: One of life's great truths- nothing is linear, it seems. And thank you~

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  33. Shelly, your post inspired me to write a post tonight.

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  34. Shelly,
    I am delighted with your visit to my blog. I am so pleased to have found yours. I signed on to follow. Your writing is superb and your topics interesting. I was right there with you and your parents. I am putting you on my favorites sidebar. Enjoy retirement, but don't go mosquito collecting :)

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    1. Linda: Thank you for your kind words and your visit! I so enjoyed your blog. And oh, the mosquitoes. If anything is bigger in Texas, it is those mosquitoes right now~

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  35. Thank you for sharing this. It is so nicely written that for a moment I forgot that this is not a book.
    God Bless your parents. I know that sometimes I see myself looking like my mom. You confirmed the fact that we start looking like our moms.

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    1. Munir: Thank you for your kind words. And definitely when I was younger, I never realized how much we resemble our moms. Resembling our moms, in so many ways, is a good thing.

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  36. This was a touching slice of your life with your parents. You have this way of tugging at the heartstrings, yet always with a take-away message.

    I do a lot for my parents, as well. I'm one of four, but the only girl. My three brothers are often "busier" than me, or so it is explained to me when I ask Mom why more people aren't pitching in. I stopped keeping score long ago, and know that I will never regret driving all over the place and rearranging so many of my plans to help my parents. Like you, I too once fought fiercely for some breathing room from my parents, but now can't imagine not speaking to them daily or visiting weekly.

    Thanks for this! Be well.

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    1. Janette Dolores: You are so right- keeping score steals joy and serves no purpose. And I tell myself what you say, often- I will never regret the things I do for them. The only regret would come much later if I didn't, or didn't do it happily.

      Your parents have a great daughter!

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  37. I'm sorry I was so caught up in stuff that I missed when this post first appeared. I'm late, late, late, to this breakfast!!!! I think this post ranks as one (and there are many) of my all-time La Tejana favorites, perhaps because I have come to know your mom a little...and she fills my heart with love.
    Through your imagery and memory, I was there.
    It was a warm and happy feeling.

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    1. Jenny: I wish you had been there with us! And thank you, my friend, for always, always being so kind, encouraging, and supportive to me and my writing. You give me such confidence by your words~

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  38. Shelly...thanks for the heads-up on the comment from Jennifer. I'll go say hello to her now.

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    1. HOOTIN ANNI: Jenny is a dear friend and has a wonderful blog- I think you'll like it.

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  39. I love this post, Shelly! It's so wonderful that you still have your parents and that you appreciate them -- and see how you're all linked in so many ways -- from crooked fingers to particular ways of being. May you enjoy many more close and joyous times with them!

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    1. Dr. Kathy: Your posts have made me think so much about aging, about our parents...thank you!

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  40. What a lovely, thought-provoking post. Yes, I too see the reverse of the parent/child relationship. I love that you can still get out and about with your parents, even if it is after a surgical procedure! I do hp[e your dad is recovering well.

    I so get the age thing too.... 50+ is SO young. It's the new 30+ doncha know ;-)

    xx Jazzy

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    1. jazzygal: Thank you! And my dad is doing super well- he had a knee replacement and is walking all over. We are hoping he comes home in the next day or so. And 50 is SO young, isn't it? (Said well by two 50+ year olds!)

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