Mom was still in the early phase of her recovery but sufficiently healed enough by mid-December to travel and so, with great nervousness on my part, they got in the car and headed back home. It was hard to release her – there were many tears – but she was ready to get back home to her people and I had to remind myself that she and Daddy had successfully managed their lives for 80 years and they could certainly handle it without me.
One the lessons I learned is that seizing control of a situation comes all too naturally but I need to stop to consider that other adults are quite capable of managing their own lives. I don’t think it dawned on me that I may have overstepped my bounds until we were several, several weeks into this process and I caught myself being a little bossy with my dad. Craig had to gently remind me that he was a big boy and had the first right of refusal in making decisions about his wife of 60 years. Sufficiently chastened, I backed off and let Dad have more of a say which was the best decision because, ultimately, Dad was going have to take point when they got back home and he needed to have that freedom because, again, ADULT and HUSBAND.
In the weeks since they’ve been gone, I’ve been processing the emotions of the experience and while some are sad (such as the realization that my parents aren’t invincible and the pain of seeing someone you love suffer), others are uplifting. I always knew my mother was an incredibly strong woman (you don’t raise the Greenwood kids without some form of super-power) but to see her quote scripture while lying on a gurney strapped to a backboard carved new depths of admiration. She didn’t complain and even apologized for the ONE DAY she was slightly cranky. (In her words, “I’m putting myself to bed. I’m being a grumpy-head.”)
Other memories bring laughter when recalling the first Sunday Craig and I felt comfortable leaving Mom and Dad alone and Daddy locked himself out of the house when he took the puppy out for a bathroom break and Mom was laid up in the bed and couldn’t get up to let him in. Or when she, high as a kite on pain meds, felt very free to comment on my inability to put away the pile of folded laundry on the dining room table and gave Craig pointers on how to handle his recalcitrant wife. (Laws, that was hilarious to see C caught between his wife and his mother-in-law.)
The over-arching emotion, though, is gratitude for the extended time with my parents. I haven’t lived at home since the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college and to have those weeks of close fellowship served to reinforce the already strong bonds we have. There’s no pretending when spending that much time together and I think we all came away from the experience with a new appreciation for and deeper understanding of each other. I got to learn more about who they are as people, not just parents, and it was a precious gift for which I will always be grateful.
Have a nice day.