Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Living in the Tensions

Today was supposed to be the day I talked about the Lutherans and Reformation Sunday. But with Summer Greek fast approaching, today was the day to finish painting the living room ( after 3 weeks), put together a bookcase, do laundry, find out when my friends will be on campus, start figuring out what to take for two weeks ( just a little less than moving in for a year), wrap up the stuff we need in the church office to publicize the fall Christian Ed classes which I will miss entirely, get someone to band practice, someone else to trombone lessons, and spend time with my parents. And a few moments catching my breath with my beloved.
My parents come up from FLA for the summer to a place I bought and renovated for them to spend time with the grandkids when they were younger. Now the Lutheran Chicks are teenagers and my parents are, well, not.
A year ago my mother's twin died from a self-inflicted wound. She is still stuck in some bitter grieving and is reliving all of the unhappiness of a dysfunctional childhood. She still is working everyday and spends much of the day on the phone and computer this summer. Then she fell on some stairs and got hurt pretty bad and that has been her summer. She has really not been interested in seeing us much and this is hard for everyone to understand. She also has not been happy with the seminary decision because it is just not what she envisioned. Saying " my daughter is a lawyer" sounds so much better than, "My daughter is a pastor." This is also hard but is proof of why I did not follow this path in my younger days. It will hopefully work itself out,but I cannot make the change occur, only pray for it.
My Dad is a kind soul and is retired. His daily faith has become his life focus over the last 10 years and he is an inspiration to me. Since my Mom is "busy" all day, he ends up spending most days with me until her workday is done. In fact, it is a blessing that we have had so much time to just talk this summer. He traveled when I was growing up and I feel like a I was given the gift of this time this summer.
But he is getting a little forgetful, and occasionally agitated. I find things for him to do each day. He has taken most of the last several weeks to paint trim in my living room.
I could have done it in a day, but he seems very content. I have touched up the things he could not really see well at night. His father had dementia and I see where we are headed. I wonder what next summer will be like. But it is not here. So I take a deep breath and live this summer with him. Because you never know.
The Lutheran Chicks really enjoy spending time with him and seem to help him when he gets a little confused, or has forgotten his hearing aid, or where his glasses are. I hope they are this patient with me some day.
I am feeling a little anxious about being away for 2 weeks. One week of this they will be with my parents during the day and then school starts. I am sure they will be bored but it will be time for our community's Fair so my beloved will take them there at night to get their fill of farm animals, junk food, seeing their friends, riding rides and getting the required milkshake from the the ladies of the Grange and root beer floats from the Lutheran men.
I will miss all of this for the first time in 15 years. Wistful moment.
This has been a summer where everything was in flux. Diane of Faith in Community has written recently of living in the tensions. How true.
A couple of years ago we rented an enormous house in Blowing Rock, NC and took the kids, our mountain bikes and invited my parents and my uncle and his wife. It was a great week. When we talked about putting it together I said it was because you never know what the future brings. It will always be my most lasting and favorite memory of a man who later became beyond reach.
And so this was the summer of long conversations with someone I see beginning to slip away. And I do not know how long it takes, but I am grateful for the inutition to embrace it and all of its tension.


Gannet Girl said...

Now right there is one of the big differences between seminary now and law school back when we were younger -- and were not concerned with responsibilities for the lives of children and parents. I am so very aware of how quickly the whole thing could be upended by the need to offer extended care, wther actually physical care or emotional and supportive care, to any one of them. As I said to a friend the other day, one of the marks of aduilt life is that virtually every hour becomes a contest between conflicting obligations.

I'm very glad you got this time with your parents, especially your dad.

LawAndGospel said...

Yes, but right there is how we find the tools to minister to others. I often look back at the pre-kids and pre-older parent days and wonder what I really knew, and what did I do with all my time. Multi-tasking is a way of life- which is why self-care is so vital.

Gannet Girl said...

You are starting Friday, right? I just came back to tell you good luck! and that I will pray for a fabulous beginning for you.