July 16, 2011

their sunset years

These are my folks.  Pretty good for 60, eh?  They are standing on top of the campground that saw me every summer, before soccer tournaments and drivers licenses kept me away.  I stayed up very late here, watching countless sunsets just like this one, and countless fires die down.  I helped to drive-in countless tent stakes, and dug around in countless coolers of ice for the coldest can of Sprite.  To this day, the smell of fresh fish guts is comforting, as is the sound of a tent zipper.  In those days, my dad's beard was dark brown and an XL shirt was stretched across his middle - the telltale sign of a man enjoying his life.  Don't let this size-L shirt fool you, though, Jerry is still a happy man.  He just likes the idea of living to see his grandchildren married.

Which brings me to the point.  It would seem that we all have our boo-hoos from childhood.  We've all been to counseling, and we've all emptied a box or two of Kleenex over, "My mom made me feel ______", and "My dad never said ______."  But, as I enter high-noon of my life, I am more and more endeared to the two people who raised me.  I know now what caused them to raise their voices, what drove them to tears, what caused doors to slam and tires to squeal.  A little thing called life.

As my parents enter the sunset of their lives, I see what I have to look forward to.  The anxieties and fears of their 30s and 40s have been replaced with acceptance, and the graceful beauty of lives well-lived, in spite of it all.

Mom and Dad, I love you so much.  I am sorry for every time I talked back, broke curfew, rolled my eyes, and broke your hearts.  Rest in this, parents of mine:  not one ounce of love you ever gave was lost on me.  Not one.  Here stands before you now a 30-year-old woman who harbors nothing in my heart for you but gratefulness, and all the lovely sentiment that goes along with it.  Enjoy the sunset.  It looks great on you.