“Even children get older and I’m getting older, too.” You likely recognize these words to the infamous song sung by the legendary Fleetwood Mac and if you are a middle-ager like me, that particular lyric probably sticks. Time does not stand still for any of us, young or old, and with each passing year, our reflection in the mirror reminds us so, as do those around us.
If you are a parent, you see your children grow and slowly become adults before your very eyes. As the years pass, they physically change and even though they often go on to have children of their own, they always remain your baby. In the reverse, as a child, you watch your parents age and reach milestone after milestone, each one becoming more precious than the last with the stark realization that they may not always be around to partake in such celebrations, be it theirs or yours. All the while, there is this thing called life that becomes busier and busier and takes us away from each other, sometimes distance-wise, sometimes time-wise, sometimes both. Everyone does their best to stay connected, but the world we live in usually operates in juxtaposition to that, pulling us all in different directions. Consciously, maybe even subconsciously, we go about our business and we try to find opportunities to get together with our loved ones as often as possible recognizing that between visits, time marches on. It is not lost on us that sometimes occasions get missed and regrets happen. Those instances make us more grateful for when things do come together and we are able to savour the moment.
Recently, I found myself facing multiple deadlines at work in amongst our usual family celebrations, including my own birthday. Planning around my schedule, my family and I met up the weekend before for a nice dinner out. At the end of our get-together that evening, my parents passed along some gifts (even though I’ve repeatedly said that time together is more than suffice) and my mom’s parting words stuck with me. “But, I won’t get to see you on your birthday.” Even though, we had just spent the evening with one another, it clearly wasn’t enough and I decided right then and there that I would have to find a way to make it enough. As I made my way through the week, I used my time as efficiently as ever determined to fit in time for a quick visit, despite my job demands. “Family comes first!” my gut rang out.
In case my efforts failed, I said nothing to my parents or my husband about my inner plan to stop by their place on my birthday. The fact that they lived only minutes away from my workplace certainly made it more than doable–one of the reasons that I had actually moved there a few years prior. That morning, I texted my husband to say that I would be coming home a bit later, so that I would not disappoint him and/or any of the things that he likely had planned for me. Thanks to closing my otherwise open office door and limiting my normally welcomed collegial interactions, I made it out of the building with a bit of time to spare. Smiling as I drove up the street, I could only hope that my parents were actually at home for my surprise intention to come to fruition. I had a feeling it would…
Sure enough, as I drove along, I spotted my dad’s vehicle a couple of cars in front of my own. Better than originally thought, I was now following him home unbeknownst to him. As he stopped in his usual spot to get the mail, I passed by him leaving him to think that it was a close neighbour, who also drove the same automobile as me. A few minutes later, when he rounded the street corner and saw me standing in their driveway, I recognized the all-too-familiar smile cross his face. In that moment, he realized that it had been me behind him. It was a supreme ‘coming-together’ moment and his pleased expression said it all. And, there it was…the best birthday present ever realized! When I followed him into the house, my mom’s subsequent smile and astonishment was further confirmation of the decision that I had made in the restaurant parking lot a few days earlier, wherein her sadness echoed so loudly that I knew had to answer the call. ‘I’m here for my birthday drink,” I happily announced, as she came out of the kitchen to greet me.
As my mom, dad and myself made our way onto their back deck and visited and reminisced on what turned out to be a gorgeous spring evening, I revelled in sharing my birthday with the two most important people on this earth who were responsible for my being, my very essence. Now that was something to celebrate, deadlines or no deadlines. Quite simply put, if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t be here doing what I am doing in the first place, and it didn’t seem right, as my mom had said, that they would not get to see me on ‘my’ day—after all, it was ‘our’ day and the only way to spend it was….together. Together is what mattered most!