“I thank God that I’m a product of my parents. That they infected me with their intelligence and energy for life, with their thirst for knowledge and their love. I’m grateful that I know where I come from.”-Shakira
So I’m a little late with my blog because I had MLK Day off and extended my weekend vacation. I spent the weekend with my folks, who spend the winter in Florida. I had not seen them in a few months so I decided to fly down for a few days and enjoy some quality time.
My parents are in their 70’s now, and I am feeling the weight of their age on me. They are in relatively good health, and health care has gotten much better (albeit expensive), but I feel this need to spend time with them and just soak up their presence while I can. I usually try to find a few new things to do with them when I visit (or they visit me), but now I almost don’t care what we do as long as we are together.
This weekend fit the bill perfectly. We spend Saturday at an art fair, having lunch, then stopping at a tap room (for my benefit, they aren’t drinkers) and ended up at home watching the Packers (painful). Sunday I got to drive their golf cart (yes!) and we had a nice lunch together and played cards. That night we went out to eat with my mom’s cousin and husband and had a wonderful time. Monday I made the trip home where I was greeted warmly by my hubby and the dog. A bit tired, but glad to be home.
If you are an adult, why should you spend more time with your parents? Here are my top five reasons:
1. You can pay them back for all the advice they gave you. Now that I have more experience in this world, I feel that I can honestly give good advice when discussing an issue. Sometimes there are technology answers that they have not considered, or just a series of questions you can ask to help them come to their own conclusion.
2. You can get interesting tidbits on their childhood. I was able to get pictures of my dad’s grandparents when I visited them because another family member asked for them. I had never seen the pictures before or knew much about the people. Now I have a great reason to chat with my dad about what he knows about them. And while we were at dinner Sunday night, my mom’s cousin mentioned how she can’t stand sloppy joes because when they were all kids they had them every time they got together. My mom chimed in that it was either sloppy joes or “beanies and weinies”. There were 4 adults and 9 children and they needed to be fed on a budget. As much as know about my mom’s childhood this was new information. I could picture the gang all together rolling their eyes as they ate another sloppy joe sandwich but grateful for the time together.
3. You can afford to pick up the tab. Since it was just me when I visited my folks they did tend to pay for stuff (I paid the tip for Sunday’s meal). But when it’s my husband and I, we always spring for a meal or groceries to treat them. Being retired they tend to be on a budget, so we make sure to help them out. We bought my in-laws a new TV and antenna (they have no cable, Netflix, nada) for Christmas, and their eyes just lit up. We have spent nowhere near the amount that they spent on us as kids, but I am grateful we have the means to buy them things that bring them joy.
4. You can eat what you want and not feel guilty. And by that I mean when my mom offers me a candy bar, I absolutely accept it and chow down happily. Would I buy myself a candy bar? I would be thinking of the calories, blah, blah, blah. But when your PARENT offers it to you, how can you say no? Or having a snack after dinner? I wouldn’t consider that at home but when my dad offers me something I usually say yes. Why? Because it reminds me of being a kid when we used to make popcorn on the stove WITH OIL. Then we would top it with REAL MELTED BUTTER. Those feel good times are great to relive in the company of the folks. When I go home I can leave that behind because it’s something special I do just with them.
5. Every day is precious. As my parents get older, I know my time with them is limited. Even more so because we live in different states. I can’t imagine my life without them, so any chance I get to spend time with them I will. As I said in the beginning, just being in their presence is enough. Having my mom clean up the dishes after a meal, or my dad fix the closer on the screen door at my house are things I cherish.
So if you have aging parents, go visit them. Give them a call. Write them a letter/email/text. Stay in touch. Ask them questions about their childhood. Inquire about their families when they were growing up, or what their college days were like. Maybe even write it down. Preserve those memories.
And what if your parents have passed on? Get together with aunts/uncles, cousins, siblings. Do the same thing as I mentioned above. Share good times, preserve memories. If you have children invite them to the conversation and maybe even break out the “When I was your age…” stories. We don’t know how long our memories will stay with us, but we know the feelings will last forever in our hearts.