The Summer of Becoming Friends

This morning as I sat outside sipping a hot cup of coffee to jump start the day, a cold breeze whipped through the air. 

The news reporters say that Pittsburgh is experiencing residual wind from Irene, but I’ve felt these breezes before.  A chilling morning wind is always the first indication of  summer birthing into fall.  Autumn is my favorite season, but this year, I don’t want summer to end.

The End of Summer

This summer has been VERY interesting to me for a lot of different reasons, all rooted in the circumstance of it being the first summer without my mom.  

As many of you know, my mom passed away in March after a long, horrible illness.  When I think back about our relationship, one of my biggest regrets is that my mom and I never had the chance to be friends.  I left home at 17, went to college, moved to the west coast, and lived away from my family until I came back to Pennsylvania at age 35.  A few months later, my mom got sick.

Home Cooked MealBefore leaving home, I was the kid and she was the mom.  Shortly after moving back, she got ill and needed me…like I needed her so many years ago.

There is only one thing that I would have changed about our relationship.  I would have made time to get to know my mom as a woman and a friend. 

At her funeral, people said some wonderful things about her that I never knew…like how she was so compassionate that after her nursing shift ended, she’d punch out , come home, change her clothes, and go back to her workplace to be with a dying patient…because she believed that no one should die alone.  You’d think that I would have known that about her….but I didn’t.  After all, I was the kid.  She was the mom. 

I vowed not to make the same mistake with my dad…not knowing him as a person and only as a dad.   

Being Friends with your DadThis year has been the summer of becoming friends.  Yesterday, we made the time to go golfing together.  When we got to the 11th hole and he lit up the cigar I gave him for Father’s Day, I wished that time would stand still.  I wished that the moment of knowing and loving my dad as a friend would never pass.  I wished that I could find the right words to tell him that even though I still need him to be my daddy, I love him for the person he is, in a non dad-ness kind of way. 

As our team’s putt plunked into the last hole, he held up his hand and expressed the universal sign of friendship.  With a wide smile forming across my face, I raised my own hand to meet his.  And there under the blue, breezy sky of a Pennsylvania summer was a father and daughter engaged in a high-five as he said, “Good one, girl”  and I responded, “Good game, dad.” 

Can parents and kids be friends?

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23 responses to this post.

  1. Since I am an only child I never understood why children moved away from parents and brothers and sisters live so far apart, even holiday reunions are rare. I suppose my outlook is unique. I have my son living in Greensboro, NC (I am in Miami). I miss him and feel cheated but he is a proud and assertive fellow and don’t take no lip. He never starts a problem but in your face gets you shot in Miami (we are Dodge City in my opinion ) so he is safer up there. My parents are approaching 88. Have lived with me last 9 years. I am sole caretaker and there is no one else.

    Reply

    • Hi Carl – I hope you get to see your son often. When I lived away from my family, there was the US Mail and the phone to stay in communication. Now, with e-mail and Skype and all of the other modern technology, I suppose that staying in touch can be easier, but both parties need to make the effort. Bless you for stepping up to the plate to take care of your parents – I’m sure there are both rewards and challenges in doing so.

      Reply

  2. I am friends with my parents, but they are definitely the adults in the relationship. Greg’s hoarder mom was more like a child, demanding attention, wielding control (over others, not herself), and throwing tantrums when she didn’t get her way.

    I didn’t like her as a friend; I tolerated her because she was going to be in the picture, like it or not. Even now that she’s gone, she is still getting her way.

    My parents are WONDERFUL! I am very blessed.

    Good post, Tracy. High five!

    Reply

    • High five back to you, Sid. I think you’re brave for being honest about how you felt about you MIL, tolerating her. I’m lucky in that my in-laws are good people.

      Reply

  3. Hi Tracy .. I am pleased you’re having time to be with your father – I missed out with mine … and fortunately I’ve had time with my mother to share quite a few things .. but not really personal stuff as that would have hurt her and we didn’t need to go that route. But to find that she ‘couldn’t have gone through what she’s going through, without me there’ is pretty special .. and a variety of things over the 4.5 years .. now is the time its challenging – there are things I’d have loved to asked and known about my parents – but as there are no grandchildren, it’s not that serious and I’m quite pragmatic and don’t fuss about it.

    However I am so happy to read .. that you and your Dad are friends and just savouring the time together .. and am so sorry about you rmother, I know it’s been tough on you both. Thinking of you – but laughing with you too as you enjoy the end of the summer .. Hilary

    Reply

    • I agree with you…everything does not need to be out in the open between parents and kids. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to know everything…that would be kind of scary! Good for you for being close to your mom and supporting her in so many ways. Not having kids myself either, I wonder who will take care of me when I’m up there in years….maybe my cats will learn how to cook and clean and drive me to the doctor! HA!

      Reply

  4. I’m smiling from ear to ear at the beauty and love of this. Thank you for sharing this moment.

    Reply

  5. A wonderful post. Thank you for sharing, Tracy. Good for you for taking this time with your dad that you didn’t feel you had with your mom.

    I do think that it is possible for parents and kids to be friends, but I also think that the transition in the relationship as kids become adults is maybe where things go wrong (if they do sometimes). And of course, relationship/friendship can only work if it comes from both sides, I think.

    Reply

    • I think it’s hard for kids to see their parents as “people” sometimes. Even into adulthood, that can be the case, so yes, the transition as you describe is a key element to moving into a different dimension of the relationship.

      Reply

  6. What a LOVELY post, Tracy!

    OMG…it warmed my heart and made me a bit teary-eyed. But, in a GOOD way.

    So many things you shared here reminded me of my biological mother and I’s relationship. She passed away when I was very young, so I didn’t really get to know her well. But, I will say what I DO remember is our love for one another. In fact, I still feel it.

    So glad you and your father are close and are forming a tight, solid friendship. And yes, I do think kids and parents can be friends. I’m that way with my stepmother. She’s like my best friend.

    I was thinking of you yesterday, and hoping you were safe and well during the hurricane that hit us. Isn’t amazing how much cooler it was today? Felt like Fall!

    Thank you for sharing this post, girl!

    X

    Reply

  7. Your post brought tears to my eyes. My dad passed away 25 years ago this September and I have said the gift he left behind was the friendship I formed with my mother in his absence. Your post reminded me how lucky I am to have that. Thank you!

    Reply

    • WONDERFUL! It can be hard, sometimes, to see the good that is left behind from a tragedy. I’m glad you found the gift that was left for you.

      Reply

  8. Posted by Bonnie on August 29, 2011 at 8:04 am

    This is a thought-provoking and touching post, Tracy. Your mother was so pretty, and I certainly see the resemblance! I know you must miss her so much. Time really does fly by us so fast. Thanks for the gentle reminder to slow down and cherish the ones we love, while there is time to do so. Sounds like a perfect weekend for a round of golf! :)

    Reply

    • Thanks for those words Bonnie. Time does fly by fast…and sometimes it takes quite an effort to slow down and think about today instead of pushing things off into the tomorrows.

      Reply

  9. That is such a beautiful post! Yes, I firmly believe you can be friends with your parents, mostly in the adult years when all the raising is over. :)

    I love seeing that you and your dad have a very special relationship now. :)

    Reply

    • Hahahaha – not sure if my dad will ever be done raising me. When I stay overnight at his house, he still waits up for me to come home at night and worries until I walk through the door!

      Reply

  10. I’m sorry you missed that time with your mom. My story is pretty much the same, married at 20 and moved away from the area. I have a ‘friend’ relationship with my daughter that I wish I’d had with my mom. Glad to see you and your dad having fun together.

    Reply

  11. Beautiful thoughts.Regret can be painful. Sorry. Hope you have an awesome time with Dad!
    My mom has been having some health issues… I feel fortunate for the chance to make friends with her now. Especially since we didn’t jive when I lived at home as a kid.
    Either way though,as long as parents know we love and appreciate them and we know they love us we can feel good about that. (=

    Reply

    • Jiving with parents when you live at home isn’t possible – is it? That’s why we high-tail it out of there by age 18.

      “…as long as parents know we love and appreciate them and we know they love us we can feel good about that” Absolutely!

      Reply

  12. It is important to get to know our parents as people. Recently, my mother has found herself a beau after being widowed for 23 years. In some ways I feel as though I’m getting to know a whole other person. I can’t remember seeing her truly happy before as these past 23 years she’s been so lonely. This only goes to show that we cannot possible know what life has in store for us. :)

    Reply

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