If you have been reading along these past few days you would know that I took a trip to Florida to see my parents with my brother. We left our spouses home. And our kids? Well, they aren’t kids anymore so they have their own lives and we can’t lure them places with pool noodles and water wings. Although the promise of a good ice cream sandwich and free drinks at happy hour might get them to join us.
This was a bit of a last minute trip for me and I am so glad I took it. I can count on my hand the times in the past 25 years that it has just been the 4 of us. And sadly I would have to say most of those times were not surrounding very pleasant circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, we adore having our spouses and families with us, as do our parents. But there is something very special about going back to the original family unit of your childhood for a short time. My husband did it earlier this season (well 4 of his original 5 made it) and he too, appreciated having that historical dynamic.
This was the first extended period of time that we were able to just hang out and enjoy each other’s company. For so many years our interactions centered around the kids. Our professional lives are very demanding and leave us little time to just be. Lost were the days that we could sit at a table uninterrupted and have a complete conversation. This weekend was a gift of healthy (well except for mom’s 24 hour bug) parents and time to enjoy them.
With the backdrop of South Florida’s planned communities as never ending fodder for humor we had a lot of laughs.
Funny, we sat in the back seat of my dad’s car in our childhood positions. Fortunately we did not bicker. Since my brother is 4 1/2 years older I never did stand a chance in a fight and always wound up crying or having a nose bleed (don’t ask).
Times like this are a breeding ground for childhood memories. We talked of things that were long forgotten. The simple thrill of going to work with my dad when we were kids; the smell of the subway, the pretzels on the street, the chestnuts, eating lunch at the Automat, going to Kresge’s Five and Dime to buy junk. My dad was the original Bring Your Child to Work Day guy. And not just my brother, he expected the same from me as he did from his son; no double standard in our house. We talked about my mom’s garden (and the gardener, G-d help that poor man) and how excited she is to get back to nurturing her plants.
We discussed family holidays when we were kids and how my grandmother used to bring Jordan Almonds, jellied fruit slices and Dunkin’ Donuts to our house. Beach days with the children when they were babies, and how they have all grown up to be such amazing young adults.
These are the little things that make up a life. Nothing truly monumental (although some would beg to differ about the Jordan Almonds), just the details that give us all history; lives made up not of days, but of moments.
Thanks Mom and Dad, not only for a lovely weekend, but for teaching us how to be parents. And giving us the gift of your time – whenever we have needed you.
Happy Passover (and pass me a tissue, please).
Oh and if you are all wondering, yes, that is my brother’s Bar Mitzvah picture. Cute wasn’t I? (in a mousey sort of way). Looks like something straight out of A Serious Man.