Over the years, three of our five grown kids have come back home for short healing spells when life in the grown-up world got a bit heavy for them. Kind of a retreat, maybe. These times are a mixed bag of honest sharing, a bit of tension, home-cooking, laughter, nostalgia, some tears, and then a return back to their unique lives.
Times like these are generally unexpected and not always at the most convenient periods of our own lives, but they are a part of what we call "family." They are hard to evaluate from the perspective of aging parents. We kind of muddle through, welcoming them back for a time and hoping that for them, the return to parents of old times had some value. Our home has always been open to our birds that have flown the nest. At least for a while.
One was a young guy who had lost his job and thinking out what to do next, maybe find something in Phoenix. That didn't work out and we probably weren't much help, but he went back home to his family after about a week, renewed and rested and with some new ideas and he went on to build a very successful career of his own. It was a good time.
The second was a severe health problem and a need to escape the frozen north for some sunshine, relaxation and maybe some parental love. He died a decade or so after his return home. This year, as a fact. He was with us a month and it was a difficult time, full of ups and downs and even a time of hospitalization for him. We felt we pretty much failed him as we didn't have the strength or the understanding of his situation at the time to help deal with his severe problems. Still, we were there for him and it was a major event in our family life.
The third was an escape from an abusive relationship. Our grown child had hit the bottom and arrived home pretty much with an empty tank. It only took a little support and honest times of talking out issues for a wonderful transformation to begin to take place. The times ahead for her would be tough, but suddenly she was tough and wise. She faced up to some of her own problems that had led to the situation. We exposed her to quite a few people in our retirement community who were mostly grandparents themselves and were amazed at the way they responded to her and her to them. Healing was beginning.
Last night I crawled into bed after the three of us had watched a baseball game on television. I was patting the dogs and settling in for a nice late summer night of sleep when I heard the sound of two women laughing heartily at something. This startled me a bit. What in the world was going on?
Then I knew. It was "family" going on. Nice stuff for a couple whose parenting these days is pretty much limited to memories. But parenting never ends in some ways. She will be moving on in a few days. I'm happy for her.
I'm happy for us.