21 December 2006

My Parents Are Here.

My parents arrived safely last night and are all checked into their hotel. They treated us to sushi and Chinese food, and left when the kids started getting slap happy and tired.

My parents are generous to a fault. Thanks to them, we have no car notes, and two reliable cars, and I have no student loans. They dote on my kids, and Primo, and me. In some way, they perhaps make up for the physical distance by buying us things (often stuff we don't really need and have no space for). But they have the means to do it, and if you ask them not to, they get a little offended.

My relationship with my parents has been through dark times, mostly when I was a bratty kid in my early 20's and living in my own personal dark ages, and I don't mean the kind with the cool clothes and castles. Thankfully we grow, we evolve, we get over ourselves, and people forgive us. I look forward to my parents' visit, and the things we don't talk about aren't really all that important in the wider scheme of things. I break out the turtlenecks to hide the tattoos, move books on witchcraft, drugs and religious experience, erotica, and erotic origami, log out of blogspot in case my dad uses the computer and comes across this little confessional, change the Ukiyo-e Shunga screen saver, remind Primo to take down that annoying screen saver of the naked woman on all fours, and smile like the Cheshire cat.

My mom's hair is totally white and she's wearing it longer than I've ever seen it. She looks very professorial, which is good, because she is a professor. More to the point, mom is a brilliant historian, and she specializes in African American and Southern women's History. When I told her that I wanted to write a RPG about slavery, she sent me textbooks, links to articles, lots of background information, lots of encouragement praise for finding an avenue for writing. We've spent hours on the phone with me running scenarios by her ("would something like this have really happened?"). Role playing games are not her thing, but apparently she liked the idea of a game based on history and might actually be educational, from not only a psycho-sociological perspective, but a historical one. One of the first things she said when she walked in the door last night was "I brought that book for you, but I left it at the hotel." She's always bringing me books, I have no idea what book she'd talking about, but I'm sure it will be interesting. She also asked to see a draft of my game. My own dear husband hasn't even read it (long story and I don't want to badmouth him here.). Someone in my family is interested in something I wrote! Anyway, my mom and I have an easier time relating to each other. We like books, we're kind of geeky, she's my mom, etc. Yet personality-wise, I'm probably more like my dad and maybe that's why. They've been married for 37 years, I think she gets us, and we her.

My dad is a big guy. He has the gift of gab, and remembers all of my friends' names and what they were last up to. He's gregarious, laughs loudly, has a big heart, and wants nothing but for those he loves to be safe, treated fairly, and happy (Jeez that word pops up a lot around here). Where my mom is the American historian, he is an astute armchair political scientist. For the past couple of elections he and I have chatted about our favorite and least favorite candidates. He keeps me updated on Memphis politics, including the polician I once went on a date with, we commiserate in our loathing for Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, and certain Memphis politicians that I used to work for (that I never dated). A few years ago I had an ugly falling out with one of my first cousins. I think it hurt him as much as it did me. At nearly every conversation with him, he either consoled or counselled on what to do about this relationship. Some of his advice I followed, some of it I didn't and I told him so. He still supported me. He has also always been my biggest breastfeeding advocate, even out in public, nursing a squirming, walking, talking toddler. All the other things I do, like herb crafting, he's my most vocal fan, regardless whether my endeavor was a success.

Now for the dark part of the cloud. It is difficult for me to say--admit, rather-- how my dad looks. In one word, I suppose he looks big. He's not taking care of himself. He's retired and very sedentary, he eats crappy fast food all day while my mom is at work, he's diabetic and only pays lip service to the diabetic diet he should be following. He doesn't check his blood sugar. Ever. My mom implored me to check it for him every day while they're here, as she always does when they come to visit. This time he actually brought his glucometer. In nursing school I was the injection/finger stick queen. I liked doing it, and I made sure I did it fast and as painless as possible. Even still, I've never been able to get my dad to let me do it. I'm just going to surprise him this time. I'm not going to ask, I'm going to get his machine, and I'm going to get him. That's pretty mean, but I'm not a nurse, so I don't feel bound by law or nursing ethics to ask.

My dad's health has been a defining issue in our relationship for a good 20 years. It's frustrating and frightening to see him not take care of himself, to pretend he's not constantly winded and not feeling himself. But I'm just the daughter, and one who lives 1500 miles away. I have to resist the urge not to say anything, and resist the urge to read him the riot act and tell him how angry it makes me that he doesn't take care of himself, or even let people help him. He has an immense support system as well as the financial resources and access to health care to help. We're all just waiting for him to decide to do something and stick to it.

I'm excited and a bit anxious that they're here. I've only really noticed that my parents are getting old in the past 5 years or so. Maybe I'm having a hard time adjusting to the change in dynamics.

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