My dad and I were awake early before school one morning. It was a dark winter day and licks of icy snow kicked up in the back yard against a purple sky. One bright strip of pink was streaked across the horizon where the sun was peeking through.
“Look at that, Steeny,” my dad mumbled tiredly over the rim of his coffee mug. I was also struck by the beauty of it all, but being sixteen and quite angst-filled with a deep resentment towards my over-protective, megalomanic father, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction and rolled my eyes then walked away.
Fast forward to now. I was crying fat tears into my pillow just moments ago because of how much I love my dad and mom and the life they made possible for me to live. Quite a switch! I guess what brought it on was my mom and I having this frighteningly-real discussion today about the not-so-distant future when she and my dad might consider selling their house, my childhood home, for something more manageable. In my head, I could hear a pin drop even though the kids were running in circles around us. It’s not like we’ve never talked about it before. We have. But she’d said, “You know, maybe in another ten years…who knows?”
TEN YEARS?? I swear to you, I blinked at 22 and suddenly I am 32 with a husband and three kids. Ten years is a heart beat! I could literally hear mine echoing in my ears as we continued the conversation.
“Your dad always says they’ll have to take him out in a pine box,” she laughed but then grew serious. “I don’t want to be a burden to you kids. I want to be independent and not have such a big house left to take care of when we’re not able to anymore.” The rest kind of sounded like Charlie Brown’s mom then and I spaced out a bit.
I was remembering our family picnic when I was a little girl. My dad had brought us out for the afternoon to show us the field which would soon be the place of our new home. We ate fried chicken out of a paper bucket. We flew a kite, I think. Maybe I am making that part up. I was four, but some things just stick with you. Then I remember the spring that we moved in. We had a picnic table as our kitchen table. All of our relatives came over to celebrate and we didn’t even have carpet yet. In fact, all of us kids were out in the garage climbing on top of giant rolls of carpet which had yet to be installed. We had pizza. We ate on paper plates because there were so many cousins and aunts and uncles over to celebrate, we didn’t have enough of the other kind. We picked grape leaves in true Middle-Eastern fashion from a vine nearby our house. This place was the Milford mother-load for stuffed grape leaves! We had found our little slice of happiness because of the vision my parents had.
My dad built that house with his own hands. My mom added the warmth and coziness and together they gave it a heart. They made that field into a house with a big hill in the back which we used to sled down in the winter. We grew a vegetable garden every year and ate our own food from it. We were sick and comforted in those bedrooms right up the stairs. We listened to James Taylor, Paul Simon, Tom Petty- SO MUCH MUSIC- and danced in that family room. My youngest brother Nick was born and raised while we lived in that house. I remember getting ready for my wedding day with my mom and my sister in my parents’ bedroom and walking down the stairs and bursting into tears when I saw my dad at the bottom of that staircase. My brother Kevin and his wife Sara had their wedding reception at that house on a 95 degree day which included a thunderstorm. My babies have run around that yard and know that house as Pops and Lulu’s house. All of these things plus a million other distinct memories flooded me as my mom kept talking and I can’t even say it wasn’t logical. Of course all of it made perfect sense! They are (probably, though impossibly) going to get older. They might not be able to keep up their yard.
So in spite of how devastated I would be if they decide to sell that house, I suppose I could get over losing it. But the thing that is still making me tear up, even as I continue to write all of this, is thinking about a day when my dad or my mom aren’t here on this earth anymore.
There are three infallible truths that are branded into my heart:
1. My mom can make anywhere feel like home. She is gravity. She is what keeps me grounded. If she is gone, I will likely float away.
2. Nothing in this world is impossible for my dad. His determination and passion are unparalleled. I can’t think of anything he has wanted to do in his life which he hasn’t accomplished. I am certain that he will find a way to escape even death.
3. Mom and Dad, Cindy and Jim Rashid, are soul mates. One cannot exist without the other. Their love is such a force and is so absolute that nothing can break it. There has never been a day in my life when I thought my parents would be apart. Their love created heaven and earth for me and my siblings. Besides the memories I am making with my own kids, the happiest days of my life have happened because of them.
I know time marches on and we never know when our clock is done ticking. I hope I can live my life as purposefully and with as much meaning as my parents do. They won’t die because they will live on forever in the hearts of those who know and love them.
And Dad and Mom, I am sorry for being such a dramatic brat during my life. I am sorry for any day I didn’t tell you how much I love you and how wonderful you are. So much of who I am is because of you. Dad, thanks for this stubborn streak and Mom, I will never stop trying to be more like you.
On that note, and also because I’ve wiped out about half a box of Kleenex, I am going to give this a very poor edit and head to bed. I apologize for the many grammatical errors and typos. I really should get an editor, one of these days…