Over the last few months I’ve been going through layers of family history. Finally getting to the bottom of some of the deep stacks of stuff one builds up through years of marriage. All of us need to do this at some point. It’s healthy to de-clutter your life and also make decisions about what is important to keep, and what…not so much.
It has been interesting to stumble on photographs of events whose memory has been shaded by time. Just last night while flipping over some album covers a set of photos fell out that taught me something. One of those photos was a shot of my parents standing with me at the finish of the Sycamore Pumpkinfest 10K in 1984. I’d placed second to a better runner that day, but not for lack of trying. Some days you just get beat. So I was smiling in the photo, as were my mother and father.
But here’s the kicker. I had completely forgotten they were in attendance that day. And likely, that’s true of many other races. They came to most of my meets in high school and even some in college. My mother cheered and my father often yelled, “Stay loose!” which often made me more tense. But that’s a different story.
It’s so easy to forget these moments of support and dedication. I had my differences with my parents over the years like most people. But truth be told, they were very supportive of most of the things I did.
That includes my art, my writing and my athletic pursuits. It was my father that drove me to Luther College on a whim in the middle of summer 1975. I switched from Augustana to Luther on his advice. “It’s beautiful there.”
And that’s sometimes how parenthood works. It’s the small things that count. Like being there often enough to be noticed. And being there even if you figure your attendance will be forgotten some day.
They saw me win. And they saw me lose. And they loved me in between.
Recently my companion Sue made a trip to Florida to spend time with her parents. She had not seen them in more than a year. It was the right thing to do. Your parents need to see you, just like you need to see your parents.
So let’s hear it for the parents. Every one of them. Even if they’re gone from this earth, it is healthy to think back and remember. To turn and hug your own kids, or your spouse or companion. Share the love. That’s what parenting is all about.