Turning Point

There are moments in our lives which serve as turning points. We may or may not recognize them at the time, but eventually we look back and see the significance in those moments.

I want to share one of my turning points with you here. It was Valentine’s Day about 16 years ago.

My church was having a Valentine’s Day dinner. Of course, it was mostly for couples, but it was open to everyone. I went, despite the fact that I was neither married or even dating. At one point in the evening, they opened up the microphone for people to get up and offer some words about the person who meant the most to them. Husbands got up and waxed-poetic about their wives, and vice versa.

For me, it was an opportunity to publicly acknowledge the love I had for my parents.

I clearly had love for my parents, so that’s not what this is about. Until that time, I had been trying to run out from under their identity. I had always been “Ed and Sarah’s son”. I had done many things, gone to many places, had many great triumphs in my life. But it always bugged me that no matter where I went, they weren’t “Corey’s parents”, but I was lost in their idenity.

But it was this night that I really began to embrace the honor that it was to be identified with this extraordinary couple. I don’t recall the things I said. I am probably the only one who remembers that I even spoke that night. I just remember that that particular evening was a turning point in my life, and my relationship with my parents. We’ve never been the same since.

In the final days of my mom’s life, I am thankful that it’s not some mad scramble to think of all the things left unsaid. This isn’t a time of clearing the conscience. It’s a time of togetherness. The bond we’ve built over the past 16 years has made this time what it should be. A time of thankfulness. A time of reflection. A celebration of life. An appreciation for a life well lived.

As a soon-to-be 44 year old man, I am honored to be Ed and Sarah’s son. Long after they’ve both left this world, and even after I have, it’s my dream to be remembered and thought of as being the product of these two amazing people. I have been so blessed to know them, much less be their son.

Dinner and Discussions of Spleens

My parents are each 73 years old, but there can be varying degrees of 73ness. You know what I mean. Whatever age you are, there are people who share your chronological age, but some make it appear older or younger than the number may suggest based on their appearance and/or behaviors.

My parents are beginning to show more and more signs that their 73 is really catching up to them. For instance, during meals, my mom enjoys sharing stories of old friends and relatives. Now this isn’t really a problem, except that when you hit a certain age, the only updates you get from your similarly aged friends and relatives are medical in nature. Therefore, while eating my meal, my mom wants to tell me about her cousin in Bakersfield who had her spleen removed. Then I hear about her friend’s failed back surgery. Then my cousin’s post-operation infection. It’s taking everything within me to keep my food, well…within me.

My poor mom is afflicted with two men. This is most evident when she is sharing memories of days gone by. As a woman, my mom’s stories involve a lot of details which my dad and I perceive as red traffic lights on the road toward the point. As men, we just want to sail down the road and arrive at our destination as quickly as possible. As a woman, my mom takes a casual cruise, taking in every detail along the way. Dad and I see these details as stop lights because we have to sit there and wait for them before we can continue toward the destination; the point. Sometimes, we even have to take the occasional turn on to a side street of thought and roam through that neighborhood of (to us) meaningless information before we can return to the course. This maneuver is always keyed on the word, “anyway.”

For example, “remember? I had prime rib, mashed potatoes and broccoli. You don’t remember? Anyway, that was the night we flew in and stayed in San Jose for a week.”

On one hand, the fact that she remembers exactly what she had for dinner at The Hungry Hunter the night I picked them up at the airport ten years ago is an encouraging sign. Her mind is very sharp. On the other hand…what does that have to do with anything?

Later, my dad took some time to parade his collection of items he ordered from catalogs. Then, he brought out the catalogs for me to browse through. Sometimes he gets things that are actually kind of cool. Other times, he ends up getting something that is supposed to be slightly better than a thing he already has. That means he has no need for the old one, so guess who he wants to give it to. I love my dad very much, so I have to walk a very thin political tightrope when balancing whether to accept or turn it down. Sometimes I just need to take the battery operated floor sweeper, though my Swiffer does the job quite nicely. It makes him feel good.

My parents are the sweetest people ever. My dad gets people to fall in love with him wherever he goes. He’s just being himself, and people love to come up and give him hugs. He’s a good and gentle man. This Christmas, he got me four different sweaters and shirts. Three of the four, I’ll definitely wear. The fact that he hit on 75% this year is a nice improvement on previous years. Sometimes he’s still guilty of buying me something he would wear. But that’s part of the charm, and one thing I know I’ll fondly remember for the rest of my life.

So while my parents are showing their age in some funny ways, and some troubling ways, I hope to be able to hear about spleens and battery operated floor sweepers for a long time to come.