This was the first day of JoHn and I jumping back into ‘real life’, and by ‘real life’ I mean we went to spin class for the first time since Granny left us to be with Grampa (which – the other day – I found myself considering to be a very selfish thing on her part, and told her so).
Don’t worry. I’ve done my research, and am attributing these types of thoughts to the ‘Blaming’ stage of grief, which – though not overtly called out in the Kubler Ross model – seems fitting for the 2 week mark (not that I’m measuring my progress (but I do think I’m ahead of JoHn)).
When we got back to The Inn, I said something about something and then JoHn said something (the ‘Amorphous Narrative Phase’). We sipped our freshly poured coffee as we talked about grief.
I was saying how strange it is that we tend to feel so adrift when our parents die… that we may have not truly needed them financially or even for advice or direction in our lives for so long, and yet we suddenly feel untethered…
Without air cover.
I said I didn’t think it was just because we were now bumped up to the next level, generation-wise, and there was no one above us, so… ya know.
Apparently JoHn’s thinking was not along the same lines because his eyes got all big and saucer-y and I found myself trying to calm him by throwing people I really care about under the bus… “Well, we have a lot of friends who are way older than us!”
JoHn says I may be misunderstanding the meaning and purpose of these phases, but I don’t think so as I am grieving and I have read that no one grieves in the same way and there are no rules (I told him that, angrily (check!)).
One of the things that dawned on me in one of my two a.m. body-wanting-to-sleep-but-brain-wide-awake moments was the number of jobs I’ve had over the years, sandwiched between kids and sexti-septi-octo-genearians.
Granny, Grampa, John, and I (and a one-year-old Mac) moved in together in August of 1993.
For nearly 25 years they trusted us enough to live and be a part of our collective everydays.
I started thinking of my jobs during that time.
Sure, there was technology stuff, business stuff.
But those paid jobs are never our only ones… not even the most important ones, really.
I was ticking off a list in my head…
Assistant pediatrician (non-degreed)
Diaper-atic Sanitation Engineer
Buyer, Infant Fashion
Buyer, Toddler Fashion
Buyer, Small Human Fashion
Assistant Buyer, Tween Fashion
Checkbook, Teen Fashion
Child Development Apprentice (approximately 551,880 hours completed)
Disney World Trip Coordinator and Executive Holder of Guest Cards
Short Order Cook
Special Needs Coordinator
Junior Neurologist (non-licensed)
Uber Driver before Uber Driver was a Thing
Brainless Mother Who Doesn’t Understand
Light Bulb Screwer Inner
Ladder Climbing surrogate
Driller, Saw Operator, Clock Winder (Also surrogate Positions)
Carrier of Things too Heavy for Older Hips and Knees
Finder and/or Originator of Boredom-Busting Puttering Jobs
Conversational Foil at Certain Old Yankee Man’s Breakfast Table
Conversational Foil, or Foil in General, at a Certain Old Yankee Man’s Dinner Table
Espionage-ical Prescription Coordinator and Pill Organizer
Junior Geriatric Psychiatrist (non-licensed)
Expert Topical Pain Relief Lotion Applier (Specialist, Backs and Knees)
Doctor and Specialist Consultant
Junior Physical and Occupational Therapist
Patient Care Coordinator (required advanced certificate in note taking as well as post-diagnostic Googling and old-Fashioned telephoning of poor, unsuspecting experts)
Conversationalist (multiple topics including current events, politics, literature, family history (contemporary and old-world), medicine, and snow removal techniques (previous debate experience required with that one)
Human-Form Anti-Anxiety Pill
That’s only an example list, and that’s a lotta jobs.
Wait. I forgot one.
Throughout it all – all the love and fear and joy and frustration and awe and fury… and solitude-inal moments of gratitude and wonder – was the soul that is me.
At times I stood back… well, honestly, I stood back a lot.
Observing, supporting, leading from the back of the bus when needed, concocting magic in the shadows in joyful anticipation… through storms and celebrations, and the ordinary days that roll into memories.
What do they say about finding a job you love? Find it, and you’ll never work a day in your life.
I can’t say a lot of that list above, nor a lot of what isn’t on that list above, wasn’t exhausting… but was it a part of an overall job I love.
Watching the people I love together, seeing their connections and watching them grow… spending time with them, knowing them as humans. Supporting where I can. It’s a biggie for me.
That sounds so selfless doesn’t it?
I’m a superhero of love and empathy and selflessness! Bless me!
This family has been a vehicle for an unbelievable amount of self exploration and refection. What I have received over the past 30 years plus could absolutely bury what I have given.
It is astounding what we learn about ourselves raising small humans, guiding them toward being good and kind and prepared, so that they can eventually leave home.
It is astounding what we learn about ourselves living and caring for older humans, helping them realize that they have made their marks in good and kind ways, so that they can eventually go home.
And that doesn’t even count the broader family, and all those dynamics. We have a pretty great one over all (Of course it isn’t perfect (what would be the fun in that?!))
Yesterday, I got a group text from a couple of my nieces. We are all grieving for Granny, so we’re all pretty mooshy right now, offering support, and saying (or typing) our feelings out loud. I’ve been lucky to have gotten a few like this over the years, but yesterday’s was timely.
“I’m not sure if anyone has told you lately but THANK YOU. Thank you for always making family gatherings extra special. Thank you for always making sure we were/are in the loop. Thank you for always giving Granny and Grampa a loving place to live… you are amazing, and we love you so much❤”
It even had that heart emoji thingie.
I was all teary.
But then I was scrambling to collect myself, fumbling my cell phone up to eye level, my thumbs flying over the screen.
I had an important message!
Glad I got that to them right away, because they had to know.
Maybe I had to know.
Because sometimes, we just need to see the truth typed out loud before we raise our fists into the air, tug on our Bean Boots, and head back out into the world to continue exploring.
Thanks for readin’.
You can comment below, or join fellow ponderers on Just Ponderin’s Facebook page… or both! You are in total control.