In a short time I will hit the road for Maryland where my father and sisters now live. I haven't been back since my sister Beth's memorial service more than a year ago. And this trip will be fraught with a host of complicated emotions as it is likely to be the last time I see my dad in his own home. He's been in this house for over 30 years - and in Maryland for over 40 - but the time has come to call all good things to an end.
Since my mother's death, he has managed to cobble together his independence - with a lot of ups and downs both physically and emotionally - but it is no longer safe or economically viable for him to live alone. So, by early summer, he will be moved in with one of my very compassionate and generous sisters. My trip will be to check in with him and pick up a few things from the old house for the wider family.
It has been postponed twice because of blizzards and once because the
presenting issue had been resolved. So now I am mostly going to say goodbye. I didn't grow up in his house. By the time my family moved to Maryland I was already off doing my own things. For a short time we stayed with my parents before seminary while I saved money working as a concession stand manager for a softball field.
Over the years I've visited but never considered it my home. I grew up in New England. To be sure, I love the open fields of Maryland - most of which are being turned into condos for Washington, DC refugees - and I enjoy the early burst of Southern flowers. I love seeing my sisters and their families, but that's about it. Still, it fells like this will be a hard trip and saying goodbye to the old place will be complicated - especially knowing how much my father treasures his independence.
His health is not good - he is what I often call and OLD 83 - as self-care has never been his long suit. He's lived life hard - and life has been hard for him, too. As is probably true for a lot of first born sons, we've had our ups and downs. There came a time when I had to physically draw a line against the violence when I was about 15. Over the years we transitioned our battles into intellectual and emotional sparring, but built a modest truce after my mother's death took the zip out of his living.
As many children of hard families come to realize, there comes a time to put the past into perspective and live into the present. At this stage of the game, I believe my dad mostly did the best he could given his culture and perspective. And like some of my AA friends remind me, living through my various wounds has also brought me wisdom and blessings, too. Not that any of what took place was right or good, but it is what it is and we have to learn to make our peace. So, "taking one day at a time..."
After this visit, his new home will not be his own. His driving will likely come to an end, too. That's a lot of loss for an independence for a man come of age after WWII. What's more, all of his familiar references from shops and scenery to his church will soon be different. This will be a hard summer for him. I know he hopes to make it up to Massachusetts for my daughter's June wedding. I hope this can happen. We'll get the chance to bring him to our home, too. But nothing is certain.
Ok, I've delayed getting on the road long enough... I pray traveling mercies on myself.
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