My snowbird dad will be heading south in a few days with my step-mom T and Doris, to winter in a place with sunshine and heat. We had a long phone chat tonight and I could feel the sadness welling up. I don't begrudge his leaving -- he thrives in the eternal summer. He gardens and plays golf all year long, his joints don't ache as much and the climate affords him an active lifestyle. No winter hibernation for him!
It's just that when they go, they leave a big space. I pass their house every day on my to work, and I religiously honk my horn. It's our little ritual - signalling our "I love you's" as we pass by. Often I would be in our garden and hear a honk from a passing car and I would stop and smile. Hi Dad. Dad's place is a regular stop off on my way home - for nice cup of tea, or a cold glass of wine if it is Friday. Even when I don't get over as much as I would like, there is a comfort and peace knowing that he is just down the street.
I know people who do not enjoy their parents as much as I do - nor are they as fortunate as I. For my relationship with my parents has always been a good one - grounded in mutual respect and love. When my mom was alive, we were very close and were there for one another. She was the heart of our family. After her passing, my dad stepped up and tried to fill some of the gap. I wasn't sure it was possible - but I was wrong. I am proud to say that our relationship has been continually evolving and he has become my trusted confidante. And I miss him when he is not around. Life is not quite the same.
I have lost a parent - and the gift in that (there always is one) was an immediate greater appreciation for the parent I had remaining. My heart goes out to those who cannot muster affectionate feelings for or don't have a loving relationship with their parents. I'd like to think that it's never too late.
So as the week winds down, it marks the winding down of another kind. The snowbirds will migrate south - only to return with the spring thaw, to a clannish family who loves them very much.
And I will honk my horn as I pass the empty dark house.