The first memory I have of dad was coming through the door from work. We were living in Philadelphia on Walnut Lane in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. The carpet was an area rug, green in color. We had been out shopping that day. We had seen other men. Mr. Fishman who fitted us for shoes. Mr. Fergalle who cut my hair. Random people who walked past us during the day. They were always weird looking or funny looking to me. Yes this was my first memory of my dad…but not the first time I’d seen him. He came through the door with his briefcase and a smile and there was absolutely no one that was as good looking and wonderful as my dad.
My dad is one half of the most important people in my life. Mom and Dad. Mom is part of my dad’s story. Together they raised me and my brothers and sister. Their job as parents was to sacrifice themselves so that their children could benefit. I watched this every day…first through my selfish eyes where I couldn’t really see anything but my own needs or desires…and then later in life…when they made time for me for things like my little league baseball games, even though I wasn’t very good and then eventually through all of those school plays and concerts. They helped me through my adolescent years and they helped me become the person I am today.
There’s no course you can teach on parenting. There’s no book. There’s no map. Just nothing but commitment and love. There was a lot of love. There’s was a lot of pride. There was a lot of devotion. Love is when you always have a parent there to watch you, to cheer for you, to correct you and to love you in spite of your faults. Mom and dad did that for me and my siblings for years. Later when I had children, my dad would just absolutely dote on his grandchildren. He would buy old drum sticks and flip over old paint buckets to give my son his love for drumming. He was the first step in what is now his career and livelihood. He would provide a place for my daughter to stay when she had to work in the far off remote locations of Princeton and beyond.
Later, after my dad retired, he had to transition in life. Mom worked for a few more years, but, eventually she retired and they became, husband and wife again. They were there…for each other. Getting older is both beautiful and challenging. They went through this stage together. They cared for each other…each one having a bout with age a little earlier in life…spending time getting to hate hospitals. I also know this too. Now, it seems like the pains of everyday living are making it difficult to see who the caregiver is and who needs the care.
My mom and dad have watched couples disappear from their lives one by one and yet they are still together as a couple. This is all that they know. This should be the model for living. If there ever is a book on how to do “family”, it should be modeled after them. Now we are getting closer to the end of them. Soon it will only be one. There will be a hole…a big hole. I don’t know if I am ready for it as a son…let alone a spouse. I know that it will be hard. I know that everyone goes through this. It is seemingly unbearable…and I know it will take family to get through it…the whole family.
My sister has done so much to be there for my mother and father. She is a blessing beyond words. Th future is going to be rough…but as I reflect on my time with mom and dad…I catch myself smiling. I was the lucky one. I got the best two parents in the world. They got to be grandparents to my kids. They helped form another generation and that kind of spirit doesn’t die. It just gets bigger and more present…and those little annoyances, they just fade away.
Today, I will hug my mom and dad and I will cherish the closeness. Everyday, I will carry mom and dad with me. I can’t shake it. They are a part of me…all the good…and some of the bad. It is a perfect recipe. I have to remember that they don’t have to be here physically to be the parents that they have been all my life…and God will welcome two of the greatest souls to ever be placed in imperfect bodies to His Kingdom.