Wednesday, January 9, 2013


My parents are my next-door-neighbors; this often brings up images of sitcoms where similar relationships are key to the comedy/drama of the show. Scott and I made the choice, 7 years ago, to buy the house next door to my parents, which is also across the street from his parents (and my son and his family live 2 blocks away). Oh goodness, we're now the sitcom! What were we thinking?

I'll tell you - we were thinking both sets of parents would need our love and support as they grew older. Scott's parents, now deceased, were both in their 90s when they passed away (his mom 2 1/2 years ago, his father in October, and their house sold just this week). My parents, Clyde and Alice are 81 and 76.

And we've been able to help them - cooking extra food for Scott's parents, Scott mowing 3 lawns instead of only ours once a week, shoveling snow, running errands, running over to help with something, sharing meals, and for the most part it's been good.

Yet sometimes, parents know too much! If our car is gone, it's - where have you been? If the lights are off early, it's - are you OK, you went to bed early last night. If we're not at church (where 4 generations now sit on one pew), it's - we missed you at church today. If there's an extra car it's - who's been at your place? And if we have kids over for dinner, we think, and think, and think about whether or not we should have/shouldn't have, invited parents. And when we go somewhere, we'd best check-in, just in case. And we do the same to them! Family reunions? We FR with them every day! Damn it!

On the other-hand, living next door to parents has had its advantages - I'm going to the grocery store, anything I can get you? Can I borrow that . . . Can you put the rolls in your oven? Can you come take a look at . . . Would you pick up . . .

I've had a love-hate relationship with my parents for years. I'm the oldest of 7. I got married when I was 2-weeks 19, and when I look back at that, I know one of the main reasons I married so young was so I could leave home! However, I've lived with my parents, as an adult, 3 different times, for about 3 years total. And every time, I haven't wanted to be there, and they've opened their hearts to me. When I was younger, I didn't want to be like my mother - I swore I wouldn't have a big family, I wouldn't learn how to make cinnamon rolls, I wouldn't worry over my children, I wouldn't . . .  And I'm sure I'm not the only woman who has thought these things.

But my parents have done pretty darn well with their 7 children and butt-load of grandchildren. They've taught us all that we can do anything we want, we can reach for the stars and touch them. They have been supportive of all of us in our different endeavors, from going to Luthery school to becoming a chaplain to moving into the nether-regions of Montana. They are a support, physically, emotionally, financially. I believe we are all independent stubborn "I'll do it myself" adults because of the way we were reared, and this keeps all siblings tied to our parents, yet independent of.

Rambling - too much to say -

So here I am, cancer. Next door is my dad with 13 (?) stents in his heart, a bad back, and neuropathy in his feet. Yet he spends nearly every day in his shop turning beautiful wood bowls and vases. When he's not doing that he's in his magenta Lazy-boy reading woodworking magazines, sleeping, or watching TV while trying to stay awake, and he does cook. And my mom? She spends her days serving - that is her talent. She gave her lungs to the Lord about 11 years ago, and she suffers daily from asthma-related crap. Yet she tends grandkids, and great-grandkids (which just pisses me off because I should be, but I can't right now). She goes to the grocery store, bakes, cooks, feeds. She loves doing family history, reads while trying to stay awake, and plays on Pinterest and Facebook. They push through, they are living, not surviving. And they are examples of "no whining allowed."

And I didn't want to need them during my cancer journey. I wanted them to come along, in the back seat, with what information I shared (and it was going to be minimal). And then my first chemo treatment made me so stinkin' sick that I through that intention out the window and called my parents/neighbors. Now my mother keeps my treatments written on her calendar, "just in case."

Sunday - just like almost every other day for the past 3 months (even when I couldn't eat, Mom made sure Scott was fed, even with Wendy's close by, and he can open cans just fine), Scott and I ate dinner at our neighbors'. I was basically laying on the dining room table, too tired to even sit. Yet my parents had made a lovely meal, and their food is their love, and we felt it.

We moved to the living room, where I could recline on the couch, and we visited, like adults, friends, reminiscing, learning. We are blessed to have amazing neighbors - there are days when we wish we could move away, that distance makes better family, and my folks probably feel the same, but for 90% of the time, we love being next door. There is no way Scott and I could have "worked cancer" without their support. They have been totally with us on this cancer journey. No parent should have to watch their child suffer, yet here are my parents, in the "Autumn" of their lives, helping me! I should be the one helping them. Yet there are days when all I want is my mother near to me, her hands rubbing my shoulders, hugging me, or at least reading in the next room, so I can holler for her if I need her. Her words of consolation and support. Days when I want my dad, his hug, his encouraging words.

I'm going through something they've never been a part of; this is as new to them as it is to me, and they're reading and learning about breast cancer, yet they don't offer advice, they share, but they've never said, "Have you considered . . ." not in my whole life have I heard that, and there's plenty of times they could have certainly pulled that question out, legitimately questioning what I was choosing. They trust - and that's the virtue of my parents - they trust their family - trust that we know what's best for ourselves and our families. But the trust is deeper - they trust our decisions, our points of view, our paths - even when these choices differ from theirs. 

 50th Wedding Anniversary 5 Years Ago

 70th Wedding Anniversary 4 Years Ago

Once a parent, always a parent; once a child, always a child. Thanks Dad and Mom - for loving - unconditionally.

1 comment:

  1. That was a beautiful story you shared today. I loved it. You are the greatest ever and I adore you!