I remember bits and pieces of my father’s funeral. I was seven years old and my mom was adamant that his casket remain open until the very last moment. When I walked down the aisle toward his casket holding the hand of my aunt and my paternal grandmother I remember wondering why he was lying in that dark box. I kept seeing people walk up to him and talk to him, then giving him a kiss, so by the time I got there I was a little pissed off. As only a seven year old daddy’s girl can be–why did they get to go ahead of me, he’s my daddy! When I finally got there I leaned over to talk to him. I thought he was sleeping. I went to hug him but he was so cold. I decided to climb in the dark box with him so I could warm him. Why didn’t he have a blanket? Why wouldn’t he wake up? Why was he so cold? Relatives began to freak out when I began to climb in the casket. It’s a good thing my mom didn’t see it. My paternal grandmother whom we all called Momo pulled me down from the casket and tried to talk to me. My aunt tried to talk to me. I ignored them. My daddy was cold and he needed to get warm so he could wake up. Why weren’t they listening?
I wouldn’t say it made me a grown up though. I was far from being a grown up.
Ten years later my paternal grandfather died one week from graduation. Relatives were gathered at my uncle’s house to discuss things. It seemed that he hadn’t really had much of a life insurance policy. A relative or two were asking my mother to give them her plot beside my daddy, their names were already on their tombstone with intertwined wedding bands that said forever and always. My mom is a do-gooder, a giver, a helper, a caretaker. She also had the the option to buy the two plots on either side of theirs. She offered one of those. For my grandfather to be buried on the other side of my father, but that would have to be paid for, and her’s was already paid for. They weren’t really going for that idea. I stood up for my mother and told them, “Granddaddy would not want all of this. He would not want to take my momma’s spot beside my daddy. And it’s not fair of you to ask her to. Granddaddy would just as soon be buried in a pine box under a big oak tree somewhere than for this. This is wrong. I will not let you do this to my momma.” Someone said, “You’re being rude. You need to apologize. You don’t talk to adults this way.” Hell, I was about 6 weeks away from my 18th birthday and one week away from high school graduation–I was an adult! I didn’t apologize. I didn’t back down. And my grandfather is buried within walking distance to my father, and he’s buried under a tree.
When I was about 6 weeks away from turning 21 years old I had my son. I knew I was an adult then.
When I was 22 years old I got married. I’m all grown up.
When I was 24 years old I had my daughter. Definitely a grown up.
When I was a little over 26 years old I got divorced. Yep, I’m all grown up.
Raising my children as a single parent taught me so much more about adulthood. Hell, I’m old now.
Then one week before my 45th birthday my grandson was born and I realized how much I still had to learn, how much growing up I still had to do, and how very little I’d known about life and love until he was born. My daughter had to have an emergency c-section. It scared the shit out of me. The thought of losing my daughter, the thought of losing the grandchild I hadn’t even had a chance to hold. Then they were both okay and I got to see my grandson for the first time, and then they finally let me see my daughter. Both were okay. I grew up years in those brief moments.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you that having a grandchild doesn’t change you. It does. Profoundly. I am looking at a picture of my daughter and my grandson that sits on my desk as I type. Above me are other pictures: my engagement picture, my wedding to Mr. Rockstar (we were married two months after my grandson was born), a picture of my children and my nephews from about 11 years ago. a picture of me and brother when I was about 4 and he was almost 1, a few pictures of Mr. Rockstar and his daughter who is now 13, a picture of me just before graduation…Milestones in my life are documented on corkboard above my computer as an inspiration board.
I’m not fully grown yet. Don’t get me wrong, I am an adult, with all of the adult responsibilities, which we take care of in order of priority, but I don’t think you ever stop growing up. I think we continue to grow each day. I learned at seven years old that life is short. You need to hold on to the things that are important, cherish them, appreciate them, and don’t take anything for granted.
This morning I was up at 3 am because of the storm. I wrote for a
while, I brewed coffee and woke Mr. Rockstar up with a cup of coffee to help motivate him. He didn’t want to get out of the bed this morning, which is not unusual, but I was able to spend a few sweet moments with this morning. Usually I’m sleeping when he leaves. Making those memories with him, with my son and daughter and my grandson, with my parents who aren’t getting any younger, with Mr. Rockstar’s parents who aren’t getting any younger…those are important things. The bills will get paid as we get the money, the house will get clean as I meander through my day….Mr. Rockstar finding a better job will happen eventually, my going to photography school will happen eventually (as soon as we have the money), replacing the central heating and air unit, replacing the flooring in the kitchen and dining room and bathroom and hallway will happen eventually…But for now, I’m enjoying the moments. Responsibilities are always going to be there, but the people in our lives aren’t. I think being a grown up is about more than just being responsible with money or having a job or career, or doing the right thing, or learning how to listen and not trying to have the last word, or figuring out that your bills come first before partying…I believe that growing up also means appreciating what you have when you have it, remembering that the small things in life make life worth living and enjoying, being true to yourself and being yourself regardless of what is going on in your life or who is or isn’t in your life… I think growing up also has to do with facing your fears. I faced one of the biggest fears of life when I was seven years old. Since then I’ve been facing fears with the knowledge that one day I’ll be the one in that casket. I’m not afraid, but I definitely won’t “go gentle unto that good night.” I’m living life and making the most out of it.
Daily Prompt: All Grown Up. When was the first time you really felt like a grown up (if ever)?
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