David Post: Thinking of Mom, Dad and my luck in the lottery of life
Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, to me, are much more about my mom and dad than about me being a dad. My father died 12 years ago and my mom six years ago. If ever a day feels like yesterday, it is those days.
Perhaps I’m alone, but I took my parents for granted. When they enter my consciousness, I leave adulthood and am still a kid, approaching 70. Mother’s and Father’s Days are a mix of emotions and memories and senses of sound and smell and sight and taste and touch.
I have two perspectives, one as a child, one as a parent. I’m a connected dad, talking to my kids a couple times each week and texting them almost daily. But not like their mom. She talks or texts them a dozen times a day. Sometimes, I’m jealous of not being a mom and the special bonds that mothers develop with their children. Few men can do that.
In their minds, my kids are beginning to transition from my being their parent to them becoming my parents. Though we talk regularly, often with lengthy conversations about our daily lives, I always hang up feeling that all I really wanted was to just linger a little longer on ordinary forgettable stuff, even if I was the one with something important to do. If I get their voice message, I’m still happy to hear their voice.
My children tend call me when they are in transit. When they land, the call is over. Nonetheless, I’m grateful that they save that time for me. But will they ever wonder if they should have lingered more rather than squeezing me into their travel time?
Did I do that? After my parents were gone, I felt I had not called often enough. I’m a guy, so I didn’t call my parents everyday like my sisters did. Just as I ask my kids about their lives, my parents’ conversations were about me.
In retrospect, I realized that my parents were like my grade school teachers — always there.
I thought those wonderful teachers lived in their classrooms, exclusively for me. My teachers were there when I arrived and when I left. They smiled when they saw me; they picked me up when I fell down and hugged me. It never occurred to me that they went home to a family, were a mommy or daddy, had kids, went to movies or birthday parties or liked taking their kids out for ice cream cones. Or cooked (or ate breakfast or dinner) or just watched TV. Or went on vacations. Or got sick. They are just there — for me.
After my parents passed away, memories of the ordinary grew. I remember the mundane. Meals. Playing tennis or cards. Them driving. Life. Their lessons keep growing. Not a day goes by that I don’t quote my mom and dad. Or ask what they would have done or suggested or said about something that I did.
I often feel that I’m living in an imaginary boxing ring with them as invisible ropes keeping me in line. They continue to push me, pull me, direct me, and whisper what’s OK and what’s not. And that it’s going to be OK.
Everyday, in the middle of an ordinary conversation, I’ll say, “My dad used to say ….” Or “My mom would say … “
I often say that the most important decision in my life was picking good parents. I won the lottery. And then I wonder if I’m a good parent, if I’m doing enough, teaching the right lessons, loving enough. I bet my kids will do the same. It’s the cycle of life.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
David Post is a resident of Salisbury.