Maintaining relationships with my loved ones takes much courage, understanding, compassion and love. It is not easy to communicate my feelings. It is much easier to give advice, opinions, beliefs, which are not asked for most of the time. What one really needs is to be listened to, not given advice. This is the hardest of all to do, especially when I believe I could straighten everything out by giving my opinion. This has not been working.
I have had a close relationship with my mom, Rita. Most of my life we had pretty good communication but in the last 5 years there has been a strain in our relationship because she is more demanding, more opioniated. I know she wants to be listened to with no comments but having for most of my adult life been there for her with my ideas, etc., it's hard for me to change this role. Being the oldest of eight, especially when my dad, Marcel died at the age of 53, I took upon myself to come to my mom's rescue. I need to work this out but it is not easy and we have said things that have hurt one another. Mom becoming 80 this year and having trouble walking has really given me some food for thought on the aging process. I am not that far behind her and need to change some of my habits so that I do not become immobile later on.
My marriage to Dick for the past 38 years is a close relationship that needs to be worked on daily. We have started a new life together as empty-nesters, Lisa our youngest moved to the Boston area in 1996. Our 3 daughters, Donna, Joanne & Lisa and 3 grand kids, Rachel, Jacob & Ryan are ongoing relationships that we want to stay close to and also our 2 son-in-laws, Mike & Dave.
Our family has done many things together,especially working 14 years (1975-1989) in our religious book store. Our lives at that time was full; raising our 3 kids, running our bookshop, being involved in our parish community. Before we knew it our relationships went to second place, Dick & I had what has been called "The Messiah Complex", we were going to help change the world but at times forgot that you can't be for others if you neglect yourself, your marriage, your family. In retrospect, you could say we were on an ego trip. We believed what we were doing was good and much needed in our community, many had expressed this to us and we ran with it, not realizing what and whom we were leaving behind. Having experienced a Marriage Encounter in 1974 and Cursillo in 1976, we learned the ways of building on our relationships but the load was too much to carry and our relationships suffered. Dick having a heart attack in 1981 and by-pass surgery in 1982 & again in 1993 and myself having been diagnosed in 1995 with stage 2 breast cancer has really made us aware of our short time here on earth.
The years between 35 to 50 just flew by. At this time in our lives we are more conscious of one another and our needs and it is much easier to be sensitive to one another. Our focus these days is each other, our kids, grand kids (we do a lot of baby-sitting). We are glad to help our kids in this way, and "grand kids are God's way of giving us a second chance". Our jobs are important and use up much of our energies. We try to maintain a good relationship with my mom and I have let go much and try to give to her what she needs, love and acceptance. Our faith sharing group with 3 other couples has become very meaningful to us at this time in our life, we are springboards for one another and discuss our feelings, thoughts, beliefs in a wonderful nonjudgmental and loving environment.
Dick & I are planning a trip to Italy & France this summer. This will be our first trip outside North America. The workplace for me is where most of my energy seems to be going. Although I have a good respectable job in a good environment, I am not getting any younger. Having been through the financial and emotional drain of owning a business, we are just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I don't miss the stress of having our own business but do miss being involved with people, books, sponsoring concerts and especially being my own boss. Dick & I and our family, my mom, Rita made many new acquaintances, we shared in one another's ups and downs, this is truly what I miss the most. To this day people inquire if we would do it again. Yes, of course if we had the capital, we certainly have enough experience.
"The Road Not Taken"
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.