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It Didn’t Matter Anymore, Grandpa

I don’t feel like the issue was fully resolved. I don’t feel that you completely understood where I was coming from or just how much you hurt me in those years of disconnect.  I don’t think you fully took responsibility for your part in it, though you apologized in your own way-not really ever using the words “I’m sorry.”

But it got to a point that I didn’t care. I hated not having you in my life and not really knowing my kids. I hated them not knowing you-the man who had had an immeasurable impact on who and what I had become.  The hole didn’t go unnoticed. I spoke of you often and then, like today, I felt you in many of my words and actions. There were many, many days in which I wanted to let it all go, and I would call you and see that you were still bitter. I don’t blame you entirely, perhaps I could have put in more effort.

I know that in that time (the few years in which we only spoke a couple of times a year), all the comments you made about being disappointed in me, or about my “head not being in this world” came from a place of hurt.  I know from experience, that pain often manifests itself as anger and bitterness. I know it was hard for you when I “stopped needing you” as much, as my own family was forming. What you didn’t understand was that I still needed you, just in different ways.

So, perhaps the God-ordained timing was just right, perhaps we were both at a place in which it didn’t matter anymore, but that one summer visit changed it all.  I am thankful that I had an “excuse” to come over to see my Aunt, (I’m not sure I would have come otherwise,) so I could see that the bitterness was gone. I felt we were finally both in a place to let it all go and just be Grandpa and Cyndy again. I told you I was sorry I had stayed away so long, and you told me I had misunderstood the things you had said to me about not finishing college to stay home with my son, and the comments you made about me homeschooling the kids as they got older, and that you didn’t mean it the way I took it. In my mind I disagreed, I still thought you had meant them exactly as I took them, but at that point it didn’t matter anymore. You told me you were never truly disappointed in me, and I took that. It was enough. You were 87, I believe, and I knew we were limited on time.

We found out a year later that cancer was widespread and aggressive. My emotions were so mixed as I was thankful that we had reconnected, and deeply saddened that we didn’t have more time. My older kids would remember you, but my little guy definitely wouldn’t.  I was thankful that you got to see me in my girls and it brought you back to when I was that age. And I will forever be thankful for that visit, right after I found out about the cancer, when it was just you and I, and I was your little girl again. It could have been 25 years prior and it was just us.  We reminisced about the past and you retold your favorite stories about us, and we laughed, and I cried. I told you that I wished we had more time. You said, “I guess our time was always limited, we just didn’t know how limited.” More words of wisdom, Grandpa-good for everyone to remember.

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I’m That Kind of Person, Mike

I listened to a vlog by Mike Rowe recently in which he read an email his mother had sent him. In it, she told a story about losing her purse at the grocery store and meeting the woman who had returned it. The lady told her not to feel bad because she had actually left the store before without her cart of groceries. Mike’s mom ended the letter by asking what kind of a person leaves her cart full of groceries in the parking lot. I’d like to answer that for you, Mrs. Rowe: this kind of person.

I had forgotten (or perhaps blocked it out) but the day came back to me after hearing that story.  The kind of person who leaves a cart full of paid groceries in a parking lot is the kind of mom who paid at least 20% more for those groceries to shop 5 minutes away instead of driving 3 young kids 40 minutes round-trip to get a better deal.

She’s the kind of person who just spent over an hour in the store with 3 kids who wanted everything they saw, and became whiny and tired halfway through the shopping trip.  She’s the kind of person who had one thing on her mind as she was pushing the cart out to the vehicle-getting home and putting the kids down for a nap or some quiet time so she could decompress. She’s the kind of person who took the care to buckle all of her kids in tightly and safely, then hopped in the front seat never noticing the cart full of groceries sitting in front of the vehicle.  Then she drove home thankful to be done with the grocery shopping for one more week.

She pulled into the driveway at home, got out of the big SUV, and remembered the groceries. She cried a little bit at the realization that she was minutes away from a little rest, and now had to go back to the store. She’s the kind of person who prayed on the way there that someone had taken the cart back inside and not taken advantage of the opportunity to get a week’s worth of free groceries, because she didn’t have the money to replace them.  Then she got all of the kids back out of the SUV and hauled them into the store to retrieve the groceries that thankfully someone had pushed into the store.

So the short answer to that question-what kind of a person forgets a cart full of groceries in the parking lot-is an intelligent, devoted, hard working mom who hadn’t had a good night’s rest or gone to the bathroom alone in 7 years.

But that was years ago. Even though I once again have a little one, I don’t make those kinds of mistakes anymore. I would like to say that it’s because I am enlightened, or no longer allow myself to be frazzled or stressed, but really it’s because I have a teen and two tweens who say things like: “I thought you needed to pick up toilet paper,” and “Basketball starts Monday and I still need new shoes,” and “Did you call and sign me up for gymnastics yet?” Does it really matter how or why things get done, if they get done?

Please share your frazzled mom or dad stories with me in the comments.