By Liz Marchi
Some life changes are welcome, others not so much. Last week I was in Alabama to help move my Mom and Dad out of their home of 36 years to a new place. It was hard on everyone. There are a lot of memories, mostly good, of family gathered there from far and near to celebrate holidays, weddings, christenings and birthdays. Many grandchildren and great grandchildren have wonderful memories of Nanny and Posy’s house.
I haven’t lived at home since I was 18. A long time. Mom and Dad’s house was always an anchor in life. I was surprised at how emotional this was for me. We have a large, extended family and group of friends who all helped make this move, along with Two Men and a Truck. I am glad they are in the new place. It’s new, smaller, easier to keep up, and they have neighbors.
Trips home are special to me, but the last few have been hard. I realized that, although the oldest, I haven’t been around day to day. These last few years have brought a lot changes in their lives. In their 80s they have come to depend on those siblings closer by for many things. I was unprepared for the depth of stress on them. It was the move but also one more transition to the acceptance that life is short. There were so many decisions to be made amid a sea of emotions.
Most surprising to me were all the memories of childhood that were still there: tap shoes, school work, letters written home from college. My Mom still had my red hair from my first haircut 62 years ago. Those are the things that make you know you are loved.
Jon and I talk a lot about the next few years. We both know we don’t multitask very well anymore. I certainly am not the whirlwind I used to be. I really want time to garden, and to enjoy the view and the air in this beautiful place we call Montana. We and our friends and peers are having more health problems. Bodies are wearing out from years of work and play. Jon says I worry too much, and I probably do. In the end, it’s about managing transition and trying to live in the reality of today.
I could have done better by my parents and siblings had I been less self-absorbed in my own memories and stayed more focused on where they are today. They are the same wonderful people, just very tired and stressed from change.
As we deal with our aging parents, and as our children deal with us, it’s so important to be present. I have a desk calendar that had this quote on it the weekend I got home:
“I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves … Don’t search for answers, which could be given to you now … the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Rainer Maria Rilke
I’m ever grateful for family.
Liz is fascinated by the various approaches to aging — from denial, to plastic surgery, to running marathons, to depression. Given our current demographics, Liz thinks there is a lot to explore, celebrate and learn from those living and aging in the Flathead Valley. Contact her at Liz@frontierangels.com.