We were sitting around the restaurant dinner table last night, celebrating Jeff’s birthday with his parents, and I spent a lot of time watching how they related to each other, after 67 years of marriage. My father-in-law is losing his short-term memory, has lost all his friends, and is the last of his sibling group still living – by about 20 years! It is, in many ways, a lonely period of life for him, so he naturally relies on his wife for so much. In fact, for just about everything.
Their three children, including my husband, are all accomplished, hard working adults who are creeping up on what should be retirement age. Fortunately, my husband and his brother both work at careers which give them lots of not-weekend time off, and as a musician like his father, Jeffrey spends quite a bit of time playing duets and talking music and sharing concert going experiences when he’s up to it. And on the weekends proper, my sister-in-law steps up and spends her own time with her parents.
They are so lucky to still have parents – I really miss mine every day – but I can see how there is also a heavy sense of responsibility. With lots of love & respect & fun attached, but still… responsibility.
I got to thinking about all this again this afternoon as I was editing – for one more time! – one of the short stories I’ve been working on since… Robespierre. In my previous working worlds, there were clocks and calendars, deadlines and expectations, and too often not enough to do the things that were important. I didn’t always have time to run out to see my father at the lake when I wanted to. I didn’t always have time to spend on the phone or on line with friends from around the world. I didn’t always have time to read the books and go to the plays and listen to the music which called to me. And now, on this Monday afternoon, I have time to play with.
Yes, I still have responsibilities – a number of which seem to involve laundry baskets and/or Swiffer dusters. But I also have the ability of make choices which work for me, which will make my life better, and in turn maybe help make the lives of my family and friends better, or happier, or easier, or more comfortable. And maybe when Monday doesn’t mean Monday back to work, get the to-do list going, set out the project outlines, return Friday’s emails and phone calls, but instead means choices and time, there is time to do more for my community.
Nothing like a few Monday mitzvahs to start the week off on the right foot…