A place to lay your head

Between last fall and this spring, I helped 3 people move.  Each was a different situation, and each gave me things to reflect on.

First, the good thing: I got new furniture and decor out of the deal, but I earned it.  So there ya have it.  The selfish end of things.

The first move was last November for my sister who moved to her own place for only the second time in her then 47 years.  The other time was a good ten years ago and only for a year.  She has personal things to cope with that I won’t go into for the sake of her privacy, but she lived with my parents in an apartment at the time of the move.  It was a big step to go out on her own.

The first time she went on her own, she was urged to do so by those around her, but she wasn’t really prepared for it, nor did she really want to go.  This time, it was her choice and desire to have a life of her own as we watch our parents advance in years.  They won’t always be here.

It was a triumphant and encouraging event, and I was very glad to help. I gave my sister things I wasn’t using and I call her and try to encourage her as much as possible.

The next move was my parents in January, precipitated purely by financial needs.  My dad was 83 at the time, 84 now, and my mom is 76.  My mother has arthritis – spina stinosis. Her back, knees and leg make it hard to be on her feet for long.  My dad is in remarkable shape for an 84 year old, but he did have heart surgery more than ten years ago, and he is definitely slowing down.  Fortunately, they belong to a church whose members helped them tremendously.  I helped as much as I could after work and on the weekends getting ready for the move.  The day of the actual move, the good church folks had the majority of the work done by the time I got there after work.  There were still quite a few more trips with the minivan that evening and subsequent days, but the big stuff was moved and most of the furniture even in place.

It was great that they had good help since neither my mom nor my dad wanted to make the move from the comfortable apartment they really liked where they had become friends with the landlords and their toddler son.  With my sister in her own place by this time, they were adapting to an empty nest for only the second time since a year and a day after their wedding.

So when I go there, I feel somewhat at ease that they have adapted to their surroundings, but the place is so small.  So very small.  I can’t help think about all the wealthy estates with so many rooms, they never even set foot in some of them and have amenities they never use.  Nevertheless, my parents have all they need and all they can really take care of at this point.

The final move was my cousin who had to move from the house his grandfather built and his mother grew up in, which he lived in for the past 22 years.  The move was forced by his siblings wanting to sell the family home out from under him.  Fortunately, he was able to move in with his fiancee at her apartment.  But, as with my parents, it was a downsizing.  He put many items to auction and gave a lot to my brother and me who helped him with the move.  That worked out well for us.  Indeed, we made out well between the things my parents couldn’t keep and the things my cousin couldn’t keep.

I reflect on all this in my own home that I share with my brother and love very much.  It’s 100 years old this year.  We’ve done a lot of personalizing and improvements.  One thing we didn’t have to do, because it was already here, was to install a deck.  It was a major selling point with a great view of Bethlehem.  I am so thankful for everything I have and for a loving family.  I would do anything for them.

I still wish my parents had a little more room, but we all have what we need: a place to lay your head.




Father’s Day

Yesterday was Father’s Day.  I had a lot of people tell me Happy Father’s’ Day if you’re a dad.  I’m not and they’d say enjoy your day anyway.  I sometimes wish I could have done the “normal life” thing, getting married and having kids.  Being gay doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t do that anymore, but I don’t think I could handle kids.  Having enough trouble handling myself.  The Bible says something to the effect that God won’t give you more than you can handle.  But then he made me responsible for myself.  A little joke I came up with.  Thought about using that for a t-shirt idea when I was starting my t-shirt web store.  (That’s done now. Another story.)

But enough about me.  I was looking for a card at, you guessed it, Family Dollar, and saw one that the front design really caught my eye.  As I read it, though, it didn’t fit.  It said thanks for all the advice and guidance you gave me.  My dad never did that.  I used to feel bitter about that when I was younger and looking for that annual card.  Also on his birthday.  I felt like he didn’t do anything to help me, and didn’t spend a lot of time with us (1 brother, 1 sister) doing the dad stuff like playing catch, or fishing, and the like.  I love board games and would try to get a family game going.  He usually abstained.

As I got older, particularly in my 20’s, I began to see my parents for the human beings they are.  We all have faults, and strengths and weaknesses.  I think around that age, you start to turn into your parents and gain understanding about them.  My dad just didn’t have it in him.  He lacked energy and vivacity for doing things, not just for us, but for himself.  He did play with us when we were real little, giving us “horsey” rides, despite his weak back.  Also, piggy back rides, or putting us on our shoulders when we were at a fair or fireworks or something.  I understand that lack of energy and enthusiasm for life.  It’s called depression.  I do have a great enthusiasm for life, but sometimes have no interest in anything.  I’m glad I have bipolar and not just plain depression.

As for the advice giving, well, he’s just not an insightful person.  He learns things the hard way himself, so it can’t really be expected that he would be proactive in imparting wisdom ahead of new experiences and challenges that I arrived upon.  He could have used some advice himself from others on things, but nobody wants to help the misfits.  They hold back their knowledge and experience, perhaps to feel better about themselves while they shake their heads at someone else.  It would have been nice to receive guidance throughout the growing up years, but it is what it is.  I love my dad.

I can’t leave this post without pointing out some good stuff about my dad.  He’s very generous and considerate.  He has no guile or hidden agendas in his dealings with others outside the family or within.  He likes to joke around and is very warm and loving.  I admit I felt emotionally neglected at times through the years, but I never had to doubt for one second that he loves me.  I’m thankful for a stable home with both parents there.  I can’t imagine having divorced parents living seperately.  My parents’ 47th anniversary is coming up in a couple weeks.  I hope to have my dad with us for their 50th.  He’s 82 now, and doing well.  But he had quadruple bypass about 10 years ago.  He married a younger woman (gotta give him credit on that one). My mom is 73.  An interesting side note: they met on a blind date, set up by friends.