At the moment, I live at home with my folks and sister. The challenge about this is that it’s hard to find a quiet space for my work or personal time; but the good part is that I can spend one-on-one time with the family I love.
Weekend mornings often turn into “dad and me” time. Dad’s an early riser; I’m usually next. It’s typical for me to walk into the dining area on a Sunday morning and be greeted with the warm aroma of pancakes and coffee, and the sight of my Dad seated at the table with the lights on (no matter how sunny it is outside) and the newspaper and remnants of his breakfast spread out around him. This was the scene that greeted me today.
I poured myself a cup of coffee and drifted over to the table, picking up the career section. The cover story talked about protective parents who need to let go of their college-bound offspring. Not much else there, so as my Dad opened the business section, I peeked over his shoulder. This is a bit of a Sunday ritual–I drink my coffee, he turns the pages. If I’m interested in something, I lean closer or ask him to wait before turning the page. Technically, I’m being a pest, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
My glance idled through a column about one man’s need to let go of an aging parent who tends to make unwise financial decisions. Then my Dad interrupted my thoughts with a comment about the business article he was reading. He closed his remark with diffidence: “Of course, that’s just my opinion.” But his thoughts were right on, as they usually are.
There are times when Dad has a clear perspective on things that I’m either unaware of, or don’t understand. I value his wisdom. By the same token, I know there are subjects that I can explain to him.
Next, we read the trivia column together and started talking about tides. Both of us have a solid knowledge of that subject. We’re on an even field in this respect.
It led us to a discussion of ocean currents. I had never quite understood how they worked, but my Dad was able to explain it clearly to me. Seawater condenses as it gets cold in the north, then sinks. The water moves south, where it gets warmer and rises toward the surface. Eventually, it’s driven north—and the cycle starts all over again.
Suddenly, as I stood there looking over Dad’s shoulder, the puzzle pieces of the past few minutes began to assemble in my mind. My Dad and myself finding common ground and learning from each other. Parents letting go of adult children; adult children letting go of aging parents.
The world keeps changing. Life keeps moving. Yet somehow it always goes back to the place where it started. Like the currents of the ocean.
At some point, it will be my children who are looking over my shoulder; learning from my experience, sharing understanding, teaching me what they know. Looking over my shoulder, and preparing to take their place in the world.