Philadelphia airport is quiet today. There are plenty of people around but no noise. Odd.
I’m on my way back to my new home, which is worlds away from my original home in suburban Philadelphia. My parents are still here – healthy and well, playing tennis, climbing ladders (although if you’re reading this, ma, I hope you’ll stop RIGHT NOW!) and living in the same place I grew up in. I told a friend of mine once that my parents were coming to visit and she said you mean, you like your parents?! Her question confused me. Of course I do, I thought. Apparently she didn’t like her's so much.
After I’d packed-up my suitcase full of books, I jerked it downstairs and into my car while my dad was distracted with something else. If I hadn’t, he would have done it himself. This is the kind of thing I worry about. Truth is, he’s capable of moving it, but I don’t want my suitcase to be the reason he topples over and breaks a hip. Yesterday I came into the kitchen and my mother (mid 80s) was on the top step of her kitchen ladder returning her best plates to the highest shelf of the cupboard. Seeing her there made me nauseous so I turned away and looked out the window instead. When I thought about it later, I thought, well, would falling from a ladder be the worst way for things to end? She’s happy. She’s had a good, full, and inspiring life…
While I was home, I bought Roz Chast’s memoir called Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant. I was reading it in the living room one night with my parents across from me on either side of the fireplace. I was laughing so hard reading it that Da wondered what was so funny. I showed him the book and within minutes he was laughing too. That surprised me. Roz’s memoir is all cartoons that describe her relationship with her parents as they decline, move from their Brooklyn apartment of 50+ years, and into an assisted living place. It’s funny but it’s also not so funny. She makes the hard stuff easy to digest.
When I got into my car to leave, my parents stood on the front porch watching me put on my sunglasses, start it up, and drive away. I waved enthusiastically as I pulled out, wanting to say I love you I love you I love you out loud, but the windows were closed and it’s also not the family style. 100 yards later I made a wrong turn because it was so hard to leave. I’m pretty sure I’ll see them again. They’re strong and full of life; but there are no guarantees. Truth of the matter is that my mom and my dad and all the people who have come from their marriage, are my favorite people in the world.