Stuck in the middle with you!

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The title is a great song lyric, right? Well it is also a feeling I get from time to time. Marriage is a continuum. Early on it is all about learning to communicate constructively with your spouse. Hopefully you will have a little time before the next major challenge of raising children. Twenty or thirty years later you get to where Crystal and I are now. Parents are older and more dependent on us. And the kids, while out of the house (for the most part), still look to you for advice and encouragement. Some days it seems OK, other days it is tough. Lately, Crystal and I seem to take turns worrying and encouraging each other. I think ultimately the trick is being able to care for your family without trying to live their lives. In other words have empathy, and stay supportive, but don’t get on their roller coaster.

This last week was a good one. Early in the week we visited Crystal’s dad. Physically he has declined over the last year, but emotionally he is an inspiration. He does what he can and doesn’t worry about the rest. He trusts me and we got him out of the house a few times. He even walked a couple of houses down the street with me and his walker. I know that part of his peace comes from his faith. He wants to live life while he can but is looking forward to someday seeing his Mary Jane again.

This last weekend we had my dad visit. Dad has his physical challenges as well. While physically he is in much better shape than Crystal’s dad he is more aware of his losses than ever before. I know that he is still grieving the loss of mom. On Sunday, we had a big dinner with all of the kids and grand kids. I did most of the cooking. I was exhausted. It’s only now that I really appreciate all of those times my mom did all of the cooking. Even as she got older she would help me in the kitchen.

At any rate, I am pretty sure that everyone, including dad, had a great time. There were no deep discussions about life or problems. There were games and laughing and a lot of people rubbing their bellies (from being full, not indigestion). For at least a few moments, everything was perfect. I think those are the moments that help us carry on. I just wish mom could have been there. In some ways it was almost like she was.


Mom and Dad with the whole group in 2010

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