I have spent the last week alone with my parents in their summer home in Cape Cod. It is hard to get around without driving here, and my brother and I decided that it would be better if one of us was here to do most of the driving.
And so I packed up my office (thank you, Dropbox!), brought my laptop, ordered some books, and prepared to be here for 2 weeks straight – something I haven’t done since childhood.
In a few days, my parents will celebrate their 60th anniversary. Their marriage has gone through many changes, but it’s been strong. Now they are, as my father said, “incredibly interdependent.” Mom depends on Dad’s ears, Dad depends on Mom’s ability to remember appointments. They have matching purple canes.
Being with them here is very different from the usual once a week back home in New York. I see their rhythms, their habits, their patterns … which has helped me figure out how to be there for them and how to be there for me as well. I leave for an hour to take a Zumba class. Or to write a will for a client. Or to make some phone calls. I am there to take Mom to the beach for our morning swim in Vineyard Sound. We buy fresh fish and cook it on the grill. I help them look for things they have lost. We go together to a community meeting to save our local beach.
There is a dance of meeting their needs and meeting my own. It’s not easy to do both.
But I am grateful for this time. And most grateful that I am able, in some small way, to thank my parents for meeting my needs when I was small, while meeting their own.