Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Mimisms ~ I'm OK If You're OK

 No matter how old our children get, something always shows up to bring us right back to that you'll-never-be-too-old-to-need-your-mama conversation. Scraped knees turn into unbeatable hurdles, chickenpox becomes malaria, not being invited to the party is dwarfed by an employment rejection letter, and foreclosing on a spelling test morphs into mortgage failures. If you think childhood scares are exhausting, wait until the problems get bigger than a boo-boo band-aid can handle.

I never really understood this rite of parental passage until one day several years ago, when my aging and ailing father showed up at my door to check on me. Oh, I wasn't twelve, or seventeen, twenty-five or even thirty-nine. I was....never mind what I was...but that's exactly the point. 
He wasn't used to seeing me live alone. I'd been married an eternity. No man around to look after things when I couldn't. No one to offer hot tea on a cold sad day. And this day, I was recuperating alone from something I shouldn't have been alone recuperating from. But Daddy knew that.

And he showed up with apples.

All hunched over the steering wheel of a too-big car for a shrinking frail man and much too late to be driving the miles between our homes. Wearing his standard apparel Braves baseball cap, he deposited the paper sack of healing fruit, two quarts of WD40, a new chain for the garage door, a bag of homegrown tomatoes and started to unceremoniously close the door on his way out with hardly a word; as quietly as he'd sat a few nights ago by the hospital bed of his newly-divorced daughter minutes before her screaming appendix came out. Just sitting there, arms crossed, hat on, silent.  I was more than OK with that. 

 I thanked him and told him how much I appreciated the gifts but wish he hadn't tired himself like this, adding "You don't need to worry about me. You should look after yourself first."

He paused and turned. Through the half-closed door he steadied himself on my arm, winked and said, 
"I'm OK if you're OK."

As my own son, who is now...oh, never mind...travels through adulthood in spurts and fits, trials and challenges, joys and grownup groans - I watch carefully. Sometimes I still see the pain of striking out on my baseball boy's face. The wheels turn with new and better strategies behind those big brown eyes as he makes his way through a maze of change. I know it is best to hold the net in silence and trust him to find his own bases. But each time I witness a gentle hurt, a screaming pain, or even the natural ebb and flow of life with all its glorious bumps and bruises, I find myself holding my breath like I did the first time he rode his bike without the training wheels, hoping he won't crash, cheering him on. And more often than not - even when my mother heart aches - the crashes come full circle into stability again and I find myself breathing 
I'm OK if you're OK. 

Of course, a bag of apples never hurts.



19 comments:

Gary said...

You're OK!

Mimi Lenox said...

I am! Reminds me of that 70s book (70s?) I'm Ok, You're OK...or something like that.
It was one of the first "self-help" psychobabble books for lay people.
Hmmmm...how far we've fallen.

bazza said...

Hi Mimi. I gave my daughter a tube of pain relief cream and told her to make sure she reads the label. She put on Facebook that "my Dad still thinks I'm a child!". I commented "Ruth, go to your room at once." She's 40.
The point is that I will always be her Dad and she will always be my baby!
Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

Fisher and Staff said...

Great post! I can relate to everything you said regarding single motherhood. I learned in his early adulthood to keep my mouth shut because eventually he came through on his own, sometimes strangely, but better for it - a lot like his mother, only he does me better than I do. Isn't life grand!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh YES!!!!!!!! Beautiful, Mimi and I see (and hear) a lot of your wonderful dad in you. I SO KNOW the problems of life get bigger, not smaller, than they were in childhood - and everyone brings home more people, so the worry spans a wide net. I loved this post and related to every loving word. You so rock.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bazza - Of course she's still a child. YOUR child! If they only knew....LOL

Mimi Lenox said...

Fisher - As I said in my email to you, life is grand and then there's xanax.

Mimi Lenox said...

Sherry - Yes! They bring more people! And more people bring more people and on and on. Pretty soon your house is full of people you don't know.

Oh, I'm getting carried away again....

Akelamalu said...

Our babies will always be our babies. They don't understand though, until they get babies of their own. ;)

Patricia said...

Hi Mimi - I happened upon this lovely post through SheWrites. You are so right about us parenting our "kids" through every age. I'm loving being a grandmother but still find myself offering "boo-boo bandaids" to my grown kids from time to time just as your father so sweetly did with his apples and WD40. What a lovely illustration of the way love in a family spans the generations. Thanks!

Jaxbee said...

Such a lovely post, I love your Dad's line, it does say it all, doesn't it! My children are only 13 and 12 so we're just past band-aids (most of the time) and getting into broken hearts but I'm a daughter too so I can see exactly what you're saying.

Claudine G. said...

Hi Mimi, I'm visiting from She Writes. You have a wonderful father. The silent and strong type. With family like that, I believe you'll be OK very soon (or already are)!

Mimi Lenox said...

Akelamalu - It takes awhile for reality to set in, doesn't it? But nice to watch their progress.

Mimi Lenox said...

Patricia - Thanks for stopping by. Trickle-down love is so much better than trickle-down politics. I will be by to read your blog!

Mimi Lenox said...

Jaxbee - Mother's love is just the band-aid needed for broken hearts. I suggest you get ready. I remember the days.

Thanks for reading!

Mimi Lenox said...

Claudine - My dad passed away a couple of years ago; and yes, strong and silent describes him perfectly. He loved apples and garages and grease and WD40...and me.
He also loved helping people do things when he was able. A simple man with a big heart. That was my dad.

Thank you so much for commenting.

lynnadavidson.com said...

This is such an honest, lovely post. I love how you wrote about your dad and it made me consider my own goodhearted dad. He now has Alzheimer's and is gradually turning into the dependent one. It's not easy becoming the caregiver of the ones who cared for us, but it's the cycle of life. When we can be there for our parents, our children, our grandchildren .. hopefully someone will be there for us.
Great post, Mimi. (found it through SheWrites)

Mimi Lenox said...

Lynn - Thank you for reading and commenting. The cycle of life is never more apparent than when you become the caregiver. The simple truth is...parents always are, even when we try to fool them into thinking it's the other way around.

Brenda said...

I don't think a parent ever stops being a parent. I think of this everyday as I watch my 18 year old build her own life. I bite my tongue when I see her doing something that is likely to cause her heartbreak. I tell myself, it's her rite of passage and she will be OK. But I can't say I will be. Mimi - you are OK,and always where. Dad was doing what a dad does. Giving love.

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