When just a little bit more is just enough.
By Elizabeth Thompson
“Well, we hope it will be. What do you think about this one?"
My husband and I lagged behind a bit, allowing the Grandparents their time on the red carpet.
You see, my Mom is already looking ahead to her retirement in less than 3 years and my Father couldn't be happier - well, maybe with the exception of being told that he actually won the Big Game lottery - or, perhaps learning that wearing black socks with white shoes really is attractive.
He's been retired for over two years now and we have bonded beyond our traditional father/daughter relationship. Nowadays we’re more like girlfriends commiserating about the isolation we sometimes feel a stay-at-home-mom and a stay-at-home-husband. Comrades in the never ending battle of lists to do, errands to run and doctor’s appointments to keep. Not to mention the hours spent on the road, stuck in traffic just getting there, that is the bane of our existence here in the suburbs. He’s even started to share my interest in quick-fix recipes, low cost reorganization skills and decorating ideas. He’s even offered to sit my youngest, and often does, while I volunteer at the schools just to keep him busy.
So, yeah, he's pleased as punch.
My parents still live in the same house my twin brother and I grew up in just down the street from the house we once shared with my Grandmother. My Father would joke for years about resorting to totally gutting our newly purchased antique before we could even move in, safely, and jokes at it having been under constant construction ever since, "Maybe I'll finally be finished when I retire!"
Ironically, they’ve just completed their final touches on the kitchen.
My parents lived through a world war, communism and a revolution, which led them to America with little else than the clothes on their backs and a few photographs from home. They had to learn the language, lived with strangers and learned to accept hand outs until they were able enough – or, as in my mother’s case, old enough – to make it on their own. They met on a blind date, paid for their own wedding and had us a year later. We were raised by my grandmother, while my parents worked two jobs, and lived in that six room house that never felt tight, just cozy. My parents by no means let on how difficult it was for them and only until I was much older and had kids of my own did I understand the sacrifices they made so that my twin brother and I could grow up to be typical American kids.
So, you’ll understand why I feel it is more than fitting that I say… these guys deserve nothing less than the best in the dawn of their golden years, complete with a brand spanking new house.
The "adult style of living" community that has caught their attention happens to be just about an hour south of us. I had my reservations. They aren’t financially well off, nor are they the healthiest of couples, and I didn’t want them to have to sink every penny they had into another house. But, they never did need much, so I held back not wanting to curb their enthusiasm. I was impressed by the open floor plan that was included with what seemed to be more than reasonable cost and my husband was impressed by the craftsmanship. My kids, on the other hand, were concerned only for the number of sleepovers that could be arranged for in any one of the over-sized closets that seemed to be everywhere.
Now I was getting excited. I was genuinely happy for my parents and envious at the same time. I mean, wouldn't it be nice if someone came up with a sort of “married with a lot of children on a limited income community?
My parents were excited and managed to revive my husband’s desire to look for that something new, that something else - somewhere else, for us. We've been thinking about relocating our family to another state for a long time, and for various reasons, but my parents plans for finally living their dream has every one of my nerves firing. The only thing is we're headed in totally different directions. Not minutes, as we are now, but hours away from my parents. And my husband's parents as well.
Did I truly want to separate them from their grandchildren – the family they worked so hard and long to achieve – and my children from all four of their Grandparents? Frankly, we would be living a much simpler life someplace else much further away, but losing my grandmother, the only grandparent I ever knew, just a short two months before depressed and confused me even further.
After prospective sleeping arrangements were decided and the last closet and cupboard door was closed, my parents surprised us with lunch - their treat! All four children just about divorced themselves from my husband and me upon learning that there is a Pizza Hut within walking distance to what they've already begun to call, "Mama and Papa's house.
We had lunch and then retreated to our cars for the long ride home. Only then did my husband and I begin to admit our true feelings about my parents' expectations, out loud.
"What should we do? I love that they've found a place that they really do love - a place where they will finally be comfortable. But, if we continue to pursue our plans, this may be a lot more difficult for you."
I glanced out my side window and considered his choice of words and found it unexpectedly easy to consider moving away from my parents. I guess, in the tiniest sort of way, it’s like what they may have thought leaving their homes behind. The pain of separation would always be there, but the thought of living a new life and raising a family in a place where you can give them just a little bit more was too much to give up on.
"Nope, we do what they do. We live our lives."
I will miss them, terribly, but I am hopeful for their future, wherever or for however long of a distance it takes them. I know that they will be fine. Besides, once I save up for that portable dvd player I’ve been eyeing, what’s another hour or two in a minivan?
My parents are on the waiting list that is over a year and a half long, but their passion hasn’t waned. That's how it's always been; they could take a wet newspaper and somehow turn it into something exciting and new. And they truthfully are the happiest when they are sharing gifts - sometimes tangible, more often than not it’s that of optimism and the love of life itself - with their grandchildren.
I guess having come from so little, just a little bit more, is just enough.
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