Category Archives: aging

Letting go

imageSaturday was a big day and I’m not talking about American Pharaoh’s upset up in Saratoga. No, it was the first day of my oldest son’s adult life – he is officially a college freshman. Yesterday was Drop Off day, which might be better named Jump off a Cliff Day because that’s what I felt like doing after waiting in endless lines on a hot afternoon.

How come no one told me about the clusterf*ck involved with getting your kid situated in a dorm room? I suspect it is part of an overall conspiracy of silence involving parenting situations such as childbirth, potty training and your child’s impersonation of Satan during puberty. Come on, more experienced parents, you need to share this information! For the uninitiated, let me tell you what it was like…

First, you’re assigned a specific drop off time, which is silly because it truly means nothing. If you’re like me, you dutifully arrive 5 minutes early (forgoing that gas stop in favor of promptness) to join the already inordinately long line of vehicles trying to reach the promised land of “Student sign in.” After approximately 30 minutes, you reach your first destination, park your car, race to use the bathroom and wait patiently as your child queues to receive their dorm keys.

Step two involves driving to another parking area, one I ultimately referred to as the “holding pen,” where you park near other parents with children with the same dormitory assignment. This is where you have an opportunity to meet other annoyed parents and discuss the odds of getting your children unpacked before their graduation day arrives. After about an hour, and numerous parents complaining to the keepers of the gate, we were finally released to go wait in our cars for the final line step – drop off.

This part of the process is made much more exciting if your gas gauge indicates that your miles-to-go-to-zero is clicking down at the speed of light, or so it seems to be when contrasted with the rate of speed in which the line moves. If you’re lucky, a nice university cop will let you advance when he correctly detects panic in your voice as you ask him how far it is to the nearest gas station. Now things get fun.

imageYou pull to the curb and are immediately approached by an enthusiastic group of students who happily take the remaining possessions out of your car (everything other than the refrigerator already unloaded and hauled on foot by your children as they try to hasten the process) and place them into wheeled bins to deliver to your child’s room. There are brief conversations (Student: “Do you know where you’re going?” Parent: “Yes, the f*ck out of here.” and “I love your Bernie sticker!” said by the young woman in charge of UHart’s Students for Bernie Facebook page) and then you park your car in the third parking lot of the day and finally enter the room where your child will be living.

imageAnd then, it gets real. You see your child unpacking the things they found most important to bring along on their college adventure – books, electronics, that tea kettle you gave them as a birthday gift. You take in their surroundings so you can imagine them there when your home feels off-balance and empty without them. You walk back to your car and know beyond a doubt that the original cord cutting 18+ years ago was just the first of many. And you let go.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Education, family, moms, road trips

What are you full of?

imageDuring last night’s mental therapy run, I was thinking about potential and how long it takes for some to accept the challenge and make the effort required to embody their own unrealized possibility. Self actualization  – it isn’t necessarily an easy thing to accomplish.

Change and growth can be scary.  There’s an inherent risk involved when we let go of what we know to reach for something new. I see this hesitation, this lack of movement, at times in myself as well as in (other) important people in my life and it can be maddeningly frustrating.  It’s hard to feel, it’s equally hard to witness.

Possessing potential is great but over the years I’ve learned that a central core of ability is nothing, unless it comes coupled with the capacity to work hard. Without drive and determination, being full of potential can closely resemble being full of sh*t.

A couple of songs which hammered home what I was thinking and feeling during those five miles. Thank you, Fiona and Aimee for the wisdom.

 

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Filed under aging, love, musings, Observations, running, Uncategorized

When weakness is your superpower

It seems to me that people exert power in different ways. Some, control those in their lives by their weakness, manipulating others to do what they need done by demonstrating their own inability to manage life. Maybe they’re frequently sick or suffering from some vague, undiagnosable illness forcing prompting their family and friends to constantly attend to their needs. Perhaps they have a history of irresponsibility (financial, practical, whatever) and have become accustomed to being bailed out of trying situations.

Regardless of specifics, they’ve been conditioned to expect to be rescued when they are in challenging circumstances and have successfully mastered manipulating those around them. Their lack of capability has in fact become their greatest strength.

I have no patience or tolerance for people like this, even when I try to be empathetic. I’m sorry.  We all have different histories and patterns of behavior are certainly created in childhood. I understand that, yet adults who refuse to acknowledge their responsibility for the condition that is known as their life repel me like kryptonite.

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Filed under aging, musings, Observations, relationships

For whom the bell chimes

imageIn the quiet of the morning I have the house to myself. The trees sway a bit and occasionally the tremendous wind chimes toll their gorgeous and deep notes. It’s peaceful and I find myself, rather than imagining the day’s activities, reflecting upon all the years we’ve been fortunate enough to spend time in this beautiful place.

For seventeen summers we’ve been coming to Cape Cod. My children don’t recall a single summer of their lives when they did not spend some amount of time at the beach. Their growth from infants covered and protected from the sun to young boys slathered in sunscreen sporting (hopefully) life-preserving vests to almost men itching to drive has been breathtaking. I wish I could remember more of the early days, but the memories which do remain are vivid and never fail to elicit a smile. They were exhausting, but good days.

As the children have grown at a furious rate of speed the overall pace of our vacation has decreased. No longer is it necessary to pack multiple bags and coolers in an attempt to anticipate every single need imaginable. Life here has become simple in a new, now more easily appreciated way.

Moving forward isn’t always easy, though. Growth and change can be intimidating and there are scary parts to negotiate as we travel from who we once were to who we are destined to become. And now, over the quiet gong of the wind chimes, I hear feet slap the wood floor. Time to share the day.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, family, musings, relationships, Summer, vacation

The sun also rises

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Photo: Jessica Kelly

Tonight we laughed under a sky filled with shadows and ever changing bands of purple and fuchsia. As the sun set in the west, I waded through the tide to reach the bridge so I could witness (and cheer on) the daredevil feats of 4 boys. It was a magical evening.

The wind was wet and warm driving away the pesky green headed flies and allowing the guys to jump “one more time” again and again. I thought about their boldness and admired their nerve. It gets harder as we age to take leaps into the quasi darkness.

We’re approaching a second full moon for the month of July, a blue moon, and the waters are responding by becoming deeper at high tide. On our little slice of heaven the road leading to the bridge becomes unpassable, prompting a sense of isolation which can leave us feeling comforted or detached. Or maybe both.

The water, though, will recede and our path will again be revealed. And, of course, despite tonight’s fascination with the colors of the setting of the sun, the sun will also rise.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Cape Cod, musings, Summer, vacation

Fathers – the ones we have and the ones we don’t

imageI went to mass the other day. It was in my hometown in the same church where I made my first communion, attended catechism classes and impatiently sat through midnight mass on Christmas Eve eager to only get home and open a single gift, as was our custom. I was there to accompany one of my oldest friends as he said a final public goodbye to his father.

The priest was “new,” having been there for just 20 years, he said. He was not the priest from my own childhood, Monsignor O’Flaherty who had no hesitation about addressing those dressed too casually or arriving too late for mass. Reverend Sweeney, along with my friend and his siblings, provided a lovely eulogy to a man who lived a long life filled with family and friends. I learned for the first time that my friend’s dad had never met his own dad and rejoiced in the thought of that introduction finally, 87 years later, taking place. The image made me smile.

Am I a true believer in heaven and life after death? Probably not. Do I believe that when we leave our earthly bodies behind our souls somehow come together and combine with those of whom we missed to create a new energy? I think I do.

I hope your Father’s Day, be it the third Sunday of June or some other day not yet on the calendar, is filled with love and a sense of connection.

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Filed under aging, Aloysius, friends, holidays, musings, road trips

Glory Days – Greenwood Lake Middle School’s Class of 1980

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It probably wasn’t coincidence that I heard that Springsteen song not once, but twice, on my way to the 35th reunion of my 8th grade class, right? There probably isn’t a song more appropriate for getting together with classmates and reminiscing about shared childhoods than that nugget that made its debut the same year I graduated from high school.

I’ve been to school reunions before,  4 of them actually. But this, the first middle school reunion planned and executed, was different. After a couple of days reflecting about it, I finally recognized what made this reunion so very novel. From the first M-W reunion in 1984, which I attended in a white crepe number I referred to as my Ginger Grant dress, I went with the intention of showing people who I had become, how I had grown and changed. Going to a reunion of my 8th grade classmates couldn’t have been more dissimilar.

Attending a reunion, in my actual hometown, with other members of the Class of 1980 wasn’t an exercise in validating who I am now. Instead it was a warm embrace from the friends who have always known exactly who I am. From the former teacher who remembered me as being “so smart” to the women who made a point of telling me that I had given them something intangible  that they had never forgotten, those that were present on Saturday night demonstrated that the value I held for them was completely unrelated to anything I may have achieved in my life.  It was simply because of who I am, and who I’ve always been,  in an absolutely organic way.

Getting together with those who shared critical, right of passage events – field trips to NYC, hitchhiking adventures, explorations with gateway substances, first kisses, was positively fantastic.  The hard work of classmates to make this event happen was greatly appreciated by all who attended and I truly believe every one there had a special and memorable night. For those who weren’t there, by choice or circumstance, you were missed.  Pencil this event in for 2020.  It’ll be epic.

 

 

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Filed under aging, Education, Events, favorites, friends, girlhood, Schools, Summer, Uncategorized, upstate New York