part two-if life is a buffet, why can’t I go back for seconds

A  friend  of my daughter’s told us the other day that she and her mom (who divorced from her dad many years ago) have sold their home and are moving into a condo. While it is true that her mom wants to buy a home in the south and that in only two years she will be an empty nester, this seems like a next stage of downsizing. It seems like closing the windows of opportunity and slamming the door on possibility.I don’t love the sounds of it.

While in many ways we can be seen as the same-except I have an “extra” daughter who is 2 years younger- I feel a million years from this. In fact, I smiled thinking while she is shrinking their living space, I am growing mine. A few have  said to me -why are you doing this right now, in a few years your kids will be gone – in some ways this is why I am doing it- to celebrate what we have now and to not assume anything about the future. Today is what I know.

I asked a trusted advisor if he thought I should add on to my home at this time – expecting him to say “why? how? or now?” and all he said was “Do it. Good for the soul.”

If life is this long and delicious spread, I am still seated at it. And I am not full.

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if life is a buffet, can’t I go back for seconds ? ?

When I was growing up and we were away as a family my father would not let us eat if we were going to a buffet. Seriously. “No one eats – we are going to a buffet” he would bellow. Consequently, like Pavlov’s dog, when I go to a buffet I hear his voice and can hardly bear to eat modestly. It is like duty, scottish duty, to stuff your face, try everything and go back for seconds.

Once when I was eight I ate eight chocolate eclairs at a buffet. If 666 is the sign of the devil. 8ate8 is the sign of a little piggy. My father cheered and I barfed.

There is a weird little thing I find myself on right now and it makes me nervous. It is a world size buffet that moves through the water. There is food round the clock and it is made to look so pretty and inviting. There is no where to go to get hungry because the buffet is everywhere. It follows you everywhere with promises of midnight burgers and  sundaes, afternoon margaritas and custom omlettes at daybreak. It tugs on your sleeve, it chastises you, it sends good smells your way , presenting bouquets of food like it is courting you.

It is called a cruise ship.

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stick- to -it -iveness

Because women love to talk and repeat themselves and then talk some more, the lessons from mom are very high in volume. So much so that they sometimes fade in importance, or the child is confused as to the origin and sometimes the point of the lesson. Dad, on the other hand, typically says fewer things, is around a little less and his lessons hold more weight maybe because they are not anchored by clean your room, brush your teeth and sit up straight.

A dad will teach you how to snap your fingers, whistle, whittle wood, make a fire, laugh at yourself, drink a beer, blame the dog when you pass gas, change a tire, ride a bike, do something every day that scares you and throw not like a girl.

My dad taught me how to listen, look people dead in the eye, keep my word,  empathize with  and cheer for the underdog, smoke a pipe, call a spade a spade to its face, give nicknames to people you care about, push, tease, ask for, and  swim underwater for the whole length of the pool. But the   thing he held in highest esteem was something he called ‘sticktoitiveness’. This is not giving up or giving in no matter how tough it gets. Once in a job that I could not make work, I took him out for lunch, presented the whole thing and basically asked permission to give up.

Later when I had to give up on my marriage, stick- to- it -iveness  made me stay and try until it almost killed me. However, I never need to wonder if I did everything I could. I cannot regret or think I gave up too easily.

At that point, I could not discuss it intelligently with my father as he was already in the later stages of Dementia. One day recently he watched me intently as I was writing this blog and he asked what I was writing about. I told him separation and divorce. He said ” Oh my, I do not want to get divorced”. I said ‘you won’t dad but I am’. He said “It must have been very hard for you to give up.”

At  my wedding, my father turned to my brand new husband and said quietly “You are going to love living with her.” Of all the things he ever said about me or to me this was the very highest compliment.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. I loved living with you too.

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