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.
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.
Before 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.
This 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?