Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | March 16, 2011

The Drive Home

This past weekend we were at my mom’s… Just nine months ago I would have said “my mom and dad’s”, but on June 22nd, 2010, everything changed. That is the day we entered a reality without my dad. It is still a wonderful world, but it sure is different. I miss him every day. I often look into my new son’s eyes and tell him that I sure wish he could have met my dad, his “Grumpy”, this side of heaven.

I love the visits to my mom’s. It is very relaxing, we play games, sleep in, and chill out, enjoying the view of the lake. And when it is time to go, she still stands outside and waves goodbye as we drive away. No matter the weather – hot, cold, wet, dry – we roll down the windows and wave goodbye, calling out, “I love you!” as we go. I am not sure I will ever get used to seeing her wave back and then walk into the house alone. 

One the drive home, as the kids watched videos and Patrick read, I thought… If you had asked me when I was younger, before my dad got lung cancer, who would fare better alone – my mom or dad – I would have likely said my dad. I would have been wrong.

When I was growing up, my dad was the strong, exciting, forceful one who took on the world with reckless abandon and a lot of fun. My mom was the one who went back to the hotel room to read a book. Dad ran his own business, lost his business and started over, traveled all over the country telling young salesmen how to be a success (both in business and, I later learned, with their families), and he kept on telling many people how things should be done long after he retired. And he was, more often than not, totally correct. Mom stayed home, only getting her first (part-time) job when I was in college. She was the one who, when we were little, had trouble telling the caller she did not want to buy whatever they were selling. She had a quiet routine at home – wash whites on Monday, dust. Tuesday was colors and vacuum. (I may have the days and tasks wrong, but you get the idea.) There was a place for everything and everything had to be in its place.

It was easy to think big thoughts and feel big feelings about my dad – he was big and bold and he really lived! But I am learning now that sometimes a strong voice comes in a whisper. Sometimes a leader stands in the back. Sometimes strength is wrapped in softness.

Simply put, I think my mom is amazing. She would never tell you that – or even hint at it. She thinks she’s not a great cook because she uses a recipe. She thinks she’s not creative because she follows a pattern when she sews. She thinks she’s not strong, or a leader, because my dad was always out in front.

This weekend she was figuring out something on her car’s hands-free system – the kind of thing she would have put on dad’s “honey-do list” and waited for him to do (and I do mean wait!)  She figured it out right away. It is amazing what you allow yourself to be “unable” to do when you have someone else there to do it for you; and it is amazing what you can do when you just jump in and try.

Mom is figuring out a lot, and there is a strength in her that is beyond words. A strength that has been there all long, but I was too stupid to see it and she was too humble to notice it in herself sometimes. She spent her life helping her husband’s light shine, and supporting her children as we learned to find ours. Now, her dance card is always full. She has book club, and cards, and dinners with friends. She sews and sings and  travels and does whatever she sets her mind too, really.

Yes, I miss my dad immensely, but I am loving getting to know the amazing woman who is my mom better with every day. I think she is too…

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