National Public Radio host Scott Simon recently said that you aren’t really grown up until your parents pass. He wrote, “It made me really understand … that mothers and fathers pour everything they are into us. And they stand us on our own. And they understand that we don’t fully grow up until some day we lose them. There are some lessons that only grief and responsibility can teach us.”
That hit home. I had the kind of close relationship many only children have with Mom and Dad. When Mom passed unexpectedly on November 3, 2001, I moved Dad in with me that night. Nine years, six months and five days later, Dad passed. I felt lost and so broken. I grieve still. I always will. These experiences changed me profoundly and since that day, I vowed not to squander the good in me that came from them. It’s a challenge to explain this change unless you’ve lived it but being inauthentic to my true self is simply intolerable for me and no longer an option.
Not all grown ups are grown up equally, though. Anyone who has turned 18 is an adult, which is no great fete other than living 18 years. Being a grown up, however, takes experience, learning lessons from life, surviving pain and loss and coming through with wisdom and love in your heart. I’m a grown up, alright. There are days I whine about that fact but it doesn’t do any good.
It takes courage to stand on your grown-up feet and leave behind a former shell and walk it alone to find the grown up you are meant to be. It is also the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our parents. What you read in my blog is their product as much as mine.