Saturday, March 15, 2014

Moving On

I watched their faces, looking for any chink in their armor as my parents led my husband and I through what will likely be their new home at a retirement center.  I observed their quiet movements, listened to what they said.  And what they didn’t say. 

My brother’s and I have been “strongly suggesting” our parents move out of the home they’ve live in for nearly forty years, while they’re both still in decent health and of sound mind. I’m lucky—most people in their mid-50’s have already lost one or both parents.  I’m also a worrier.  Their current home with slippery steps leading to a cement floor basement has caused my overactive imagination to run wild every time I can’t get ahold of them, certain they’re lying in great pain on the basement floor while I’m hours away.

So they’ve agreed to take this step, and being the optimists they are, I knew they’d have a “Gee, this will be great!” attitude.  And they did.  Yes, the retirement home will mean no more mowing grass, no more shoveling snow, no more worrying if their pipes will freeze if they’re gone for a few weeks in winter. 

Yet they, like the rest of us, love their home.  We all have experienced that aaahhh feeling when we walk into our home after being gone awhile.  Everything is familiar and comfortable, because we’ve built that nest over the years, layer by layer.  It smells, feels, sounds, and is a reflection of us. 

It won’t be easy for them as they carefully sort through their accumulation of nearly sixty years of marriage, determining what to keep, and what to give away.

Back at their house, my mom and I go through a few things.  “If you see anything you want, take it.”  She says.  My husband and I don’t have room for “extras” as our family is growing every year with more (fantastic) grand-children.  The last thing we need is some small family heirloom too tempting for them to not touch.

Every family treasure mom shows me has a short story, and I see a look of sadness in her eyes as she is well aware they can’t keep it all.  I take a few small things, items I’ll cherish every day, even though I don’t need the family possessions.  What I really need is to know my parents will be happy and safe, so I don’t worry about them so much.  Somehow, our roles have been reversed.

We all have different chapters in our lives, times where we feel like we’re closing one door and opening another—with no guarantees for our future.  As my parents weed through their possessions to start the last chapter of their lives, I’m happy to know they’ll be able to bring with them the one thing that’s most important:  each other.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My trip to the Oscars

Sunday night, many of you will sit in front of your TV, eager to watch movie stars walk the red carpet, dressed to the nines, while they celebrate like its prom night.  And some will walk up on that stage and accept an Oscar for a performance that would likely dim in comparison to any outstanding performance you’ve given over the past year.

For years we’ve all lived vicariously through movie stars.  That’s about to change.  I’m not just watching—I’m joining in.  They already get paid wild amounts of money for the roles they’ve played.  Yes, they’ve done a great job. So have we.

Think about it.  If I was asked to dance with Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), I wouldn’t expect any money… much less an Oscar.  Seriously, that’s a dream, not a job.
Same goes for canoodling with George Clooney in the space shuttle, (Gravity). Believe me, I’d do it for free... with no award required to live out a fantasy of mine. 

Look at your life.  All the times you’ve had to “grin and bear it.”  You probably deserved an Oscar for hiding your true feelings.  The time you kept your silence as your boss patted himself on the back for something you did.

Or when you gave birth.  Suffering through all that pain and anguish and acting like you never thought once about strangling your husband.

The time you pretended you absolutely loved your best friend’s boyfriend, even though he made your skin crawl.

Or the time your feelings were hurt by someone important to you who forgot your birthday, and you managed to act like you barely remembered it yourself.

The time your child stood on stage during his first grade school play and did nothing but pick his nose, yet you sat in the crowd with a smile pasted on your face as if you’d never been more proud.

All the disappointments.  Time’s you’ve been passed over for a promotion, not getting picked for a team, a committee… whatever your yearning might be.

Think of your children, or grandchildren.  I can vouch that every single grandchild of ours is worthy of an Oscar.  They can go from giggles and gut-busting laughter to full-body-drenching waterworks in the time it takes you to turn around.  And they can evoke such strong emotions from us (love, frustration, happiness...) just by "playing" themselves.  Clearly they’re doing a great job to bring that kind of emotional response from us to the surface.

Haven't we all given performances worthy of an Oscar?  I’m going to the Academy Awards and strutting down the red carpet—one way or another.  I’ve earned it—I bet you have too.

Remember to rehearse your acceptance speech, and keep it short.  You don’t want the orchestra to play you off the stage.  You want to be invited back next year.  I know I’m counting on it.