Supportive but not Smothering
A frequent adventure during my childhood was visiting this big mansion – this house was huge by our family’s standards. It was the biggest house where we actually knew the people who lived there. The mom and dad who lived inside with their three sons became fixtures in our lives.
The two dads played tennis together on a regular basis. Our families spent many holidays together, often camping and cross-country skiing.
Upon arrival at the mansion, the two fathers would disappear into a room and watch football while I hung out with the two mothers (who would be besties for life) in the kitchen. We nibbled on onion dip and potato chips as I held my doll. The mother with the long black hair tied into a single braid in back would smile at me as she shook her head: “You’re the daughter I never had.”
The three brothers and my brother would vanish dealing with cool boy activities – no girls allowed! When I got tired with the onion dip, I would transition from the kitchen into the living room where a cat or two would be flapping its tail insinuating in cat speak that it was time to light the fire in the fireplace. Moments wold pass and the mother would take out a long match and strike it to revive the fire. The sound of crunched walnuts popped in the background. There was always a big bowl with an assortment of nuts to chomp on!
Music boomed throughout the house. Sometimes, two of the sons would be playing “Heart and Soul” on the piano.
Other times, the oldest son could be heard faithfully practicing his percussion. An occasional scream of appreciation could be heard from the back room where the two fathers were admiring a play in the football game.
- Even back in the early years, we shared supportive but not smothering moments.
Over the years, the families went into different directions but the one constant at our Thanksgiving table was their mother, until six years ago when she died.
A few years later, I learned that their dad was downstairs at a neighbor of my mom’s for Thanksgiving. I know, SMALL WORLD. As if I were about to visit a celebrity from my childhood, I dashed down the stairs, eagerly pounded on the back door and yelled out his name.
He pepped up as if to say, “At last, you’re here!” He, despite being a little weak, insisted that we go back up the stairs to my mom’s place to see my parents where they laughed and shot the breeze just like old times at previous holiday dinners. It was surreal and a wonderful last impression to have of him.
My childhood chums, after all this time, are miraculously still fixtures in my life. They just lost their dad a few weeks ago. My parents lost an old friend. A familiar face and voice is gone. An era is over.
This is obviously a very sad time and my way of providing comfort to them is to be “supportive but not smothering.” I hope it brings some sense of solace to know that at the most unexpected times, I see their parents’ endearing mannerisms pop out in an eye movement, a hand gesture or a cunning comment one of the brothers makes. Needless to mention, they are all very bright and make welcome company at the dinner table on any occasion.