As a teenager, I watched my mom diligently make weekend trips to Candia, NH to pay bills, offer a hand in the garden and share a meal with Grammy who now lived alone after caring for my Grampy, who passed from Alzheimer’s. In the snapshot of our day to day demands, it is easy to find these needs of others draining and heavy, only to recognize and appreciate their significance once passed.
A favorite thing in life is to get what I call a puzzle piece. That glimpse of wisdom or insight that clicks in your consciousness, marked as a connector to life’s jig, and even if you can’t exactly place how or where it fits; you know it is important! In college I heard the lyrics of Suzanne McDermott, who captures this exchange of parental roles in her song “When You Became My Child”. She sings:
When you became my child, I did not feel my womb stir, but oh, my heart went wild to beat away my weakness. To make more room for you, to hold the love you gave me, so, I could give it back to you.
Now as a parent myself, our daughter Phebie cries if we talk about when we die and Dave and I laugh, maybe nervously, at her discomfort. I assure her that the circle of life is a good thing. Then my Dad calls to hold a meeting to discuss his wishes when he passes. As Dad and I FaceTime, a technology that bridges the states between us, I begin to cry telling him the irony of Phebie crying at the thought of me dying and me crying at the thought of him dying. We cry together for a half second, then laugh and swallow.
I don’t know where this puzzle piece goes …. but seeing the sphere in full rotation, is a key. May we find grace in our journey around life’s circle where we once were the baby, cared for by our folks to the incremental shift along the radius into parenthood, adulthood and eventually the cared for once again.
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