My parents leave tomorrow morning. One might expect me to write, “It seems like only yesterday they arrived.” But it doesn’t. Truthfully, I can barely remember their arrival six days ago. It’s as if I’ve been living in a heady fog the past week. What I do know is that their presence has been instrumental in allowing me to do what needed to be done. Indeed, since their arrival we have prepared for and undertaken the largest of our three moves, cleaned our home, supervised carpet cleaning, donated (more) goods to Amvets, appraised our vehicle, ensured we will have health insurance abroad, paid bills, canceled and made reservations for lodging and rental cars, prepared meals, laundered clothes, etc. But those tasks are simple to complete, requiring only time and attention.
We asked for my parents’ help after we learned that I would be alone with our daughter and our dog for our final move. My parents first met Blue the day after he was adopted, arriving at my apartment with necessities for any puppy–nail clippers and a bottle of Nature’s Miracle. As he grew, they provided him a temporary home after I was partially immobilized by a herniated cervical disc and graciously watched my sister’s elderly dog so she could care for Blue while I traveled–domestically and abroad–for work for six weeks. My parents graciously agreed to help, scheduling their arrival for the day after my Husband’s departure and their departure the day before his return. As with many best laid plans, life happened. A week before their arrival, Blue departed for the East Coast and [S] and I were alone together in a nearly empty home.
This past week, my parents have undertaken the difficult work of ensuring [S] remains safe (healthy) and secure (happy) throughout this period of transition during which she’s been separated from her father, her dog and most of her belongings. My parents have walked with her, played with her, read to her, eaten with her, sung to her, laughed with her, chased her, held her, hugged her, changed her, and snuggled with her. They have allowed me the time to make phone calls, speak to movers, and instruct cleaners. And they have given me time each morning to get ready to face the day. It is exhausting work, as anyone who has minded a toddler knows.
I am indebted to them for their generosity. They have given freely of their time. And they have given freely of themselves. I am honored that they made the cross-country trip to help care for our family. And I am grateful that my parents were understanding and tolerant of my limited patience, sharp tones and annoyed sighs throughout the week. I know–as do they–that I can be hard work on the best of days.
Together this week, we not only celebrated Father’s day, but we also celebrated my Father’s birthday. As we did so I couldn’t help but notice that there was no pomp and circumstance regarding the day. Rather, as I sat at the car dealership awaiting our appraisal, I asked, “How old are you, Dad?” He responded with an age that was one year older than I believed him to be. A moment later I replied, “Happy Birthday.” He smiled.
This is my parents’ third visit to San Diego. They have worked hard on each visit. Their first visit was shortly after the birth of our daughter and we were frantically searching for a new home. They watched [S] as we viewed apartments and even accompanied us to various properties. The second visit was when my Husband was away on business; they helped tend to [S] and care for Blue. As long as I’ve known them, my parents have worked through any circumstances presented, regardless of the magnitude of challenge or the number of curveballs thrown. They taught me to do the same.
Today, I managed a few moments to consider those changeups pitched in my life. As I did so, I acknowledged that I am uniquely prepared to handle whatever comes my way. Growing up, I watched my parents ride out the choppy waves of life and make it to shore unscathed. And as an adult they counseled me to keep going–to do what I needed to do to move forward.
I believe it fitting that I am able to experience calm during a period of utter chaos in my life with my parents at my side. For they taught me how to manage–how to persevere–regardless of circumstances.
Saying goodbye to my parents will be difficult. But as my Father reminded me this evening, we’ve already done it once earlier this year, when we thought we were saying our final farewells stateside. And my Mother toasted to New Beginnings over a glass of wine. While their words remained unspoken, I heard the message in my heart, “Keep going, Kimberly. Keep going.”