“What do you think? Is it safe for him to drive? It’s over two and a half hours and he really hasn’t driven that much in the past year.” I ask.
“He could take the train.” My brother Steven offers.
“Dad will never take the train. And he’s going to be 89 in a month. How much longer can we let him drive from Massachusetts to Connecticut and back?”
“If you take his keys away: that’s it. He loves to drive. Besides he’s too cheap to pay someone to drive him. We can talk about it another time.” Steven deftly avoids the hard conversation.
This is not so different from a recent conversation I had with my husband about our almost 25-year-old son.
“Can we leave him alone for a week with the puppy? He has not really been on his own in almost two years.” I ask.
“But we need to get away. You need to get away and he says he can do it.” My husband Jim counters.
“I know. But I’m still nervous.”
I am a shining example of the sandwich generation: lucky enough to still have a parent who is alive and functioning, while still parenting a child who has not yet successfully left the nest. Is it any wonder woman our age have trouble sleeping, or spend so much money coloring our gray hairs?
In some ways, the last year of enforced quarantine was a mini-breather. There were bigger concerns than was
Dad driving and how far. He wasn’t. There was literally nowhere for him to go. Also, there were so few people on the road that driving was a little easier and safer. For my son, he seemed to be one of many. Every other week there was an article about 20-somethings moving back home. Childhood rooms were larger, backyards offered fresh air, and the suburbs seemed safer.
But as COVID diminishes, and the vaccination rates increase, and the world opens up, I am again confronted with struggles that last year were more hidden. And let’s be honest, the last year has not been easy. The cumulation of virus and political and personal worry has taken its toll.
So I breath. I go to OrangeTheory twice a week and give myself over to a “coach” who tells me when to ‘push’ and when to go ‘all out ‘and when I can ‘walk it out’ and for how long. For 60 minutes I think only about how I am getting through the next ‘block’ of exercises and ask myself why I can’t just be chubby and happy. I read novels. If I’m lucky, the author transports me to another place and/or another time. Recently I have given myself permission to stop reading a book that I don’t like. Life is too short to read bad books.
Lastly, I bit the bullet and went away with my husband for a week. The change of scenery was wonderful. We didn’t do anything grand, we walked on the beach, we saw some friends, ate outside, had an ice cream cone, and started to remember how to be, just the two of us. I started to unwind. Best ending, I came home to a relatively clean house, a happy puppy, and a son who had had a great week himself.
As for Dad, he still plans to drive to Connecticut but at least his girlfriend says she will accompany him. Check in on me the day after he returns to Massachusetts. I’m pretty sure I will be recovering on the couch.