As the mom of three kids, I know what it is like to say good-bye. All three have left home, they have lives of their own that don’t revolve around Mom and Dad anymore, and my husband Eric and I had to stand back and let them go. That’s what kids are supposed to do, right?
This week, I had a different kind of good-bye. My folks, who have lived a mile from my house for the past nine years, moved back to my hometown of Forest Lake.
Almost 10 years ago, they decided to hunt for a house on a lake. My little clan of Wettschrecks had moved to Avoca in 1995 after Eric got out of the service, and my parents had visited often enough to know they liked the area. They moved from Forest Lake, found a beautiful house on Lime Lake and happily settled into town. Dad ended up on the city council and the fire department, Mom worked part-time at a dollar store in Slayton and got to know everyone in the area, and they made a lot of great friends.
It was great for my kids, because having Nana and Poppy down the road was handy. My mom brought food to school play practice, prompting half of Maggie’s class to refer to her as Nana, Poppy took Matt to get his cast removed because Mom and Dad had to work. When Nick got sick at the fair, it was Nana and Poppy to the rescue. They attended plays, provided a handy ear to a complaining kid, dropped off treats and volunteered in the community.
As the kids got older, some roles reversed.
“Go help Poppy move rocks,” or “Run these tomatoes over to Nana” were easy things to say.
I got in the habit of calling my mom from the grocery store to see if she needed anything, and some days she would call me before I left work.
“Are you going to stop anywhere on the way home?” she would ask. “I’m out of Skittles.”
I was there within moments when my dad had a heart attack, and helped him bully my mom into going to the hospital when she became sick. Turns out her appendix had burst. Eric was used to running over when Dad was putting in his dock or ready to launch his boat. Dad was used to stopping at our place when he needed to escape from Mom, and unbeknownst to him, she was usually on the phone with me tattling by the time he showed up.
It was just part of life. After living so far apart for so many years, they were part of my daily routine again.
They warned me when they moved in they would only stay a couple of years. After the first five, I pretty much forgot about that warning, even when they announced they were putting their house up for sale.
On Tuesday, I stood in front of a house that was no longer theirs and said good-bye. It was really tough. I cried.
I know they are all grown up and ready to be on their own, but I want them here where I can keep an eye on them. I had to let my children go, but I think it is perfectly fair to expect my parents to stay close by.
As I drove away, Eric called. His timing is so uncanny, sometimes I feel like he lives in my head with me.
“Are you sad?” he asked, and hearing that I was fighting tears, he admitted he had a hard time saying good-bye the night before.
“It’s just you and me now, Mama,” he said, making me laugh.
Yikes. At least I still have the dog to run interference.