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Then: Growing up

Now: Grown up

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve the trips I went on with my parents.  Every winter we went up to Crestline where we tobogganed, ice-skated and drank hot chocolate around the fireplace inside our cozy cabin.  In the summer we went to this place called Highland Springs where we swam in  a big pool and ate in a dining room with all the other families.  But the vacations which occupy most of my memory (what little I have these days) are the ones we took to New York and Hawaii.  

In Hawaii, I walked around in white pedal pushers, carrying a large white straw purse (even larger than my mom's) thinking that all the boys would surely notice me.  Well, if they did it wasn't as anything but a flat-chested twelve- year-old carrying a purse way too big for her and smiling like a complete dork.  

In New York, I was a bit more sophisticated.   Sort of.   I actually fell in love and had my heart broken all in one night.  This incident caused my father to go into a rage and want to go kill whoever had made his baby girl cry so horribly.  When he found out I was sobbing hysterically because I would never see that boy again, he wanted to kill me!  

But no matter what age I was when we traveled, I knew my father would get us to our destination safely.  He would take care of everything (hotels, car rentals, food, souvenirs, fun) while we were on our vacation.  And see to it that we all got back home in one piece.

Well, last week I went to Mexico with my parents.  And before we left, my father, now eighty-eight-years old, the one I always counted on, took my hand, looked me in the eye, and said, "You'll get us there okay, won't you?"  

As a teenager, I never thought my father would be saying this to me.   It made me cry and at the same time, made me feel good that I could answer "yes."

And so off to Mexico we went.  My husband, me, my mom (spry at eighty-four) and my father.   I wore my responsibility like a second skin, knowing that I owed it to my parents for all they have done for me.

Now, that's not to say that I didn't lose my patience a bit.  Especially  when my father was asking for a cocktail only a few minutes after we had taken our seats on the plane.  But then I couldn't blame him.  The first class passengers were drinking wine and eating hors d'oeuvres, while the coach passengers were still boarding.  The combined age of those first class passengers was probably only a few years past that of my dad's.

We arrived safely in Mexico and as I had promised my father, there was a wheelchair waiting to take us through customs.  And as I had also promised there were beautiful sunrises (well, I guess I didn't have much say in that event.) My father ate his favorite breakfast - huevos rancheros (again not something I prepared, but a meal I knew my dad had been looking forward to) and we spent many wonderful hours playing cards, drinking margaritas and laughing.  I can take credit for some of those happy moments.  And so can my dad.  

Upon returning home safely, my father thanked me.  But then again, he didn't really have to.      

It was difficult at times.  But the truth is - I'd do it all over again.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lindao wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • What an sweet post, Janie!  It really is hard when we realize that not only have our parents stopped being our caretakers, but we, in many ways, have become theirs.  It’s so wonderful that you can still travel with your parents, even though you‘re in charge. —LindaO



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Justjer wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • I had the same reaction as Linda, Janie.  My dad was always a large, imposing, loud figure when I was younger.  He is no longer with us physically, but he was disabled for quite a few years and I did what I could to help and support him.  As a kid I didn’t much like being told what to do (and still don’t) but as an adult,I never minded being his hands for him when he did not have much use of his own.  I can’t tell you how many sprinklers I repaired.  Now my mom is getting on, but with her it is as much mental and emotional as it is physical.  That may be even more difficult to deal with.  I know you are very grateful that you have this time with your dad...I know for me, I got to know my dad a lot better than I did when he was ‘in charge‘. I don’t feel very ‘grown up’ in lots of ways, but these changes are certainly reminders that I am. Once again, a great blog, Janie.  Jer



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Tinaf wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • Janie, I love the image of a skinny little 12 year-old you carrying a big straw purse!  As well as the juxtaposition of the burden you carried on this last trip.  

      Still, what Linda said...a sweet post!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Pamaloon wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • Janie - what a great post! You are a wonderful daughter, and I know your parents are so proud of you. I know I would be!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janie Emaus wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • Linda - I am very fortunate that I can travel with my parents, although I’m not sure they’ll be going back to Mexico again.  It was a bit hard on my dad.

      Jer - I think mental and emoitonal is probably harder to deal with.  How do you fix a sprinkler?

      Tina - Yes, I can’t look at big white straw purses without remembering that trip!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janie Emaus wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • Pamaloon- I don’t always feel so wonderful. But I try.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Yana Berlin wrote Apr 5, 2009
    • Oh Janie, You had me in tears half way through. I think that the role reversal happens to quick in life.  

      My parents are still very young, but I can feel it already.

      Great post.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Chattycathie wrote Apr 6, 2009
    • Janie,

      Your dad is the same age as mine, but he seems to be doing much better than mine.  I remember a few years ago when he was still able to travel and he loved it.  But it was frustrating to us because he walked so slowly and made it hard to see anything.  Funny, now I long for those days back.  The only way my dad can travel now is in his mind.  He is totally housebound and he rarely even gets out of bed.  We create videos of friends and life outside his four walls and bring the world to him.  

      Its true that as you age you go backwards in life.  First he was taking baby steps, now he is like a baby in diapers and sleeping all day in bed.  He almost can’t even feed himself anymore.  Old age is definitely not pretty, and its hard to not treat your parents like children, especially when their mind is going too.  But its good to remember them as they used to be, like your story says.  Find ways to give them the type of dignity they would of wanted as younger stronger people. That person is still there, its just that their body in not cooperating.  

      One thing I can say about my dad is he never lost his sence of humor and within his limitations, he still finds things to enjoy in life and lives what life he has to the full.  

      Loved your story again.  I can totally relate.  

      Cathie



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janie Emaus wrote Apr 6, 2009
    • Yana - I made myself cry, too!  Thanks for your comment.

      Lisa - Thanks for sharing.  Your parents sound like wonderful people.

      Cathy - That’s so great about your videos.  You’ve just given me an idea.

      Have a great day, ladies.

      Janie



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Sandyde wrote Apr 9, 2009
    • wow, Janie! Great blog. You made me cry...but, in a good way.  

      kudos to you!

      Sandy



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janie Emaus wrote Apr 9, 2009
    • Sandy -  Thanks for you comment.  Like I said, I cried when I wrote it.  And I’m so very thankful for all these times with my dad.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Anne E wrote Apr 11, 2009
    • I loved your story!  My mom has passed away, but I look back fondly on a cruise to Alaska I took with my parents, daughter, sister-in-law and nieces and nephew in 2004.  I wish you many more good times with your parents.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Janie Emaus wrote Apr 11, 2009
    • Hi Catfan - Thanks for your compliment and good wishes.  Family trips are the best!



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