I am settled in, now, at my parents townhouse, in Highlands Ranch, CO, looking out the window at a small patch of the mountain range, missing J-Land. I find it difficult to be on the computer for very long here because my parents flutter in the background, muttering about interrupting phone service. They are both quite deaf, my mother more than my father, and don't realize how much I hear their complaints.
The visit is going well. They have their routine worked out-who gets up first, who reads which newspaper first, who cooks, who cleans up, who has custody of the family room at what times, when each retreats to his or her bedroom to nap or read. I work to fit in around their schedule, spending time with each, although more with Mom than Dad. I know for their ages-82 and 79-they do quite well, and have a certain fondness for each other. They have been married 56 years, and are used to functioning together.
It's not a particularly happy marriage, though. On their 50th Anniversary, after forbidding us to throw a party, my mother said, "Fifty years of cooking!" and my father said, "I am beginning to get the rules down now." These days she nags him to do stuff, then mutters angrily under her breath while he ignores her. I am not sure how much of this he actually hears, and how much he stonewalls. My particular struggle is not to rush in to play go-between, a childhood role in which I no longer wish participate. I'm doing quite well, too. Thank Goddess for therapy!
I have hung out with my mother quiet a bit, encouraging her to talk about her childhood, and mine, about family history, and have worked hard at giving positive affirmations when she says anything about her feelings or experiences, and harder at trying to ignore the stream of negative comments and complaints which pour out of her. I have realized how lonely she is, and feel very sad about it. Still, we do manage to laugh about things-old family stories and situations, stuff going on today. I feel blessed that we have always shared a sense of humor.
I am going to write her a letter, telling her what I want her to know-the good stuff I have recieved from her, how grateful I am, because I know now I would cry too much to get it out aloud. I get choked up just thinking about it. Too much emotion not allowed in the years of my youth, it comes leaking out around the edges now, and I am glad to feel it now, even if it makes both of them uncomfortable. But I want her to hear me, not feel upset because I am crying.
Colorado is beautiful, as always, and the mountains are so amazing to an Easterner like me. I am here for another week, and am enjoying the quiet beauty of the antiques I grew up with-at home(which was outside Philadelphia) and those from my grandmother's house. My mother has a decorator's ability to arrange her furniture, paintings, and odds and ends in a beautiful casual elegance that I could never aspire to. I enjoy it, but could not keep any place so neat!
Thanks for listening to me, and please know I miss my J-Land friends almost as much as I miss Rene, and Roxy, my dog! I hope all are well, or at least hanging in, during this complicated, blessed holiday season.