Friday, June 4, 2010

Other Side of the Door

What do they take away with them? Their possessions, their music, their favorite pillow, their anxiety. We’ve all done it. We all walked out of that nest called home into a vast unknown excited that we were at last free. What did we forget to bring along? What did we bring along that we have yet to realize?

I flitted around like a bird gathering twigs for a nest. My daughter was leaving. In my mind, she needed to have storage containers, new clothes, books, bedding. Ah, the list was long and the mother was preoccupied. Meanwhile, the daughter was gathering her comfort to take with her. Sorting though tape cassettes, roaming around her room deciding what was essential, creating her new bulletin board plastering it with pictures.

In looking back, I am touched by what she considered most important. The pictures tell it all. Her family, the kids who we considered ‘family’, her grandparents, her classmates, her boyfriend. She decided to take along her history, those who have loved her. Through the piles of pictures of friends, events, she chose those of family and friends.

Forty-five years ago I left home to strike out on my own. I couldn’t wait to taste a new life, to have freedom to make my own decisions, to be away from parents with opinions. But if you ask me today what I took away, my understand would be much different.

I took away a heritage I loved. I took away a church family, a neighborhood and a family who loved me and nurtured me. I took away a freedom to believe what I wanted to believe. I took away rebellion that created this woman who always wants to learn and grow. I took away strength from a mother who was strong. I took away insecurity that would make me work harder. I took away a passion for others. I am discovering what else walked out of that door with me in 1965.

So what will my grandchildren find on the other side of that door? What will they remember that made them strong, that gave them security, that was precious to them?

I don’t know about you, but I want them to take more than Disneyland or birthday parties. I want them to remember the times they learned something from me, our talks and trust of one another, the art they created at my table, the birds and nature we share together. I want them to remember me as a mentor, a teacher, a person who accepted them just as they are and took time to listen and learn about them, to learn from them. I want them to remember the guidance through their pain, their anger, their fears. To remember a home, my home, that would always be theirs and a woman who would always be on their side.

I’m a grandma. I have been the child, the parent and now the grandparent. By now, I should be fairly honest with myself in what is really important. I should have learned that by what I needed in my life and the struggles my children experienced. I should learn by my grandchildren’s actions, reactions and silence.

We are learning together, these children and me. In a few years when Sydney walks away from her nest, I hope she takes with her skills to make good decisions, sound judgments and strength to be true to herself.

We’re on a journey, we grandparents and grandchildren. Let’s make it a good one. Let’s make the other side of that door better for them.

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