Call it 939 days and one million miles since the last time my mother had all of her children in one room and then add another three decades, an eon and an eternity since our father was with us all.
Some of that might be an exaggeration but time changes after your parent dies and you learn they really are mortal, especially a pandemic hits shortly after they make their exit.
I flew in the night before my middle sister arrived and since I was the one who had the business meeting not far from the airport I offered to pick her up and drive her out to Mom’s place.
We stopped by the house we were raised in and sat inside my rental car staring at the man taking groceries inside.
We pointed out the changes we could see and laughed about whether he would be concerned about two fifty something year-old people staring at his house. So we called mom and told her where we were and said we weren’t going to knock on the door because it is Covid and it felt kind of weird.
The outside mostly looks as it once did but the inside was changed and the home we knew is gone.
Besides I already knew that when I got to Mom’s I would walk in and look for Dad even though I knew he wouldn’t physically be there.
“Where are you now?”
I have my ideas but whether I am right or wrong doesn’t matter much.
I took most of the 30 mile trip between my meeting and the airport to take care of business. Rolling down the 405 in a rental, Bluetooth making it possible to take and make calls hands free while noting some of the things that have changed since my last visit.
Drove by the cemetery where some my great-grandparents and a dear friend are buried and headed out to see the mighty Pacific ocean.
Thought about my great-grandfather the tailor in his final resting spot while I stood on the sand helping someone work through some business needs.
“Where are you now? I thought I heard a seagull?”
“Where am I? I am at the beach.”
They laughed not realizing I was serious and then thanked me for my help.
I hadn’t come up with anything I thought was particularly profound or insightful but they felt differently because they couldn’t see what I could.
Reminded me of a time when a Virgo told me I was pushing too hard in a particular direction and I said listen to the Taurus because I saw something they didn’t see.
Your vision isn’t always enough to get people to believe in your idea, hope or dream. Sometimes you have to build a lighthouse that projects that idea in a way that illuminates whatever it is you see so that they can see it.
Sometimes you have to find a way to tell your story in a way that they can hear, see and follow.
When we knocked on the door mom raced over to greet us and then said, “you’re so big.” I laughed because I have been a father long enough to recognize those words.
It is what you say even though you know exactly how old your kid is but somehow they surprise you with their look.
We’re the two oldest and I took the moment to tease my little sister. “Mom, don’t say that, she is well over fifty now. She isn’t just big, she is really old.”
We hugged mom hello and I spent a few minutes in the house looking at furniture, pictures and art pictures I recognized.
And then I made my way to the garage and went to the tool chests to look for Dad. I opened drawers and ran my fingers over screwdrivers, hammers, files, tape measures and assorted widgets.
I closed my eyes and held some while waiting for them to whisper secrets and memories at me.
For a moment it was just me out there and I told Dad if ghosts were real and he were around now would be his chance to say hi.
The expected silence wasn’t broken by an unexpected but hoped for noise so there was no surprise.
Tomorrow I’ll head out to the cemetery to go see him and let him know I am only here for a few days, the rest of my family is still in Texas.
What Comes Next?
The moon over Thousand Oaks is huge and imposing and it is hard to believe it is not serving as some sort of sign of change.
I jumped into the fire so long ago I can’t remember not being in it though I often think about when I ought to step out of it.
These changes I feel are coming regardless of whether people want them to or not. The question isn’t whether you can run, hide or avoid the wave but how to surf with it
Everything here is intimately familiar and yet in some ways so very different.
There is a part of me that wonders if I open the wardrobe if I won’t find myself standing in Narnia or wandering somewhere between Gondor and the Shire.
Whatever it is will be interesting and when it is done life will be different but how so remains to be seen.