Thursday, September 8, 2011

Before It's Too Late

"I truly love the place I am in my life now," I told the man sitting across the table from me. "Now I truly understand what in life is important."

I hadn't seen this man since he was a boy graduating from high school back 1983. I was only thirty-five. Now I looked at a married man, a father. He was looking at a taupe-haired senior citizen. Was it really that long ago?

The conversation I had with Dave really began a few days before. Well, it sorta began in my head. It was only now that I gave that conversation voice.

"My children never sit down and ask questions about my past, my memories. They just don't understand. They don't get it." I explained. "I didn't get it until my last parent died. Then it was too late."

I remember well the years of my life. Those years when we were involved with careers, marriage, children. I remember wanting to have cocktail parties and to wear the current fashion. I remember be immersed in pregnancy and raising children. I know that I did not give my parents' past a second thought. Heck, I grew up in that house. I knew all the stories. 

Well, that's really not true, is it? Age has taught me the most valuable lesson. What I own, what I have done, what dreams I accomplished are just that when we come down to the line. We adore our children, wrapping our lives around them. I forgot to adore my parents and do the same for them. I ask my granddaughters, "How was your day?" But I never asked my parents, "How was your life?" I missed so much.

"Do you still have your parents?" I asked.

"Yes."

 "Good for you. You are very fortunate. They are gone too quickly."

I write my history for my family, but it will not answer the questions that come up. It will not tell of a grandmother gruffly taking her frightened granddaughter to the dark chicken house to gather eggs. It will not tell of the thrill of riding on a tractor with the wind blowing my hair and our cocker spaniel at my feet. It will not tell of stealing black olives from the Christmas table or eating homemade ice cream at church socials. It will not tell of a grandfather who always wore a worn black sweater and smelled of pipe smoke.

I wish someone had told me what I now realize.....told me before it was too late.

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