(Photo taken at my quiet country home)
So I realized yesterday, as I strolled down to the edge of our two acres to inform my father, on his riding mower, that dinner was ready, that I really do enjoy our quiet little life. Yes, I live with my father—having moved back home almost ten years ago to first take care of my mom, who passed away in 2010, and then to take care of his mom, my grandmother, until she passed away almost two years ago; now staying so that he won’t be alone—in a very small town in “the middle of nowhere,” my city-folk friends like to say (they have obviously never been to Eastern Colorado, hahaha!). Yes, this small town has alternately been the bane of my existence and the best place ever, for over twenty years. Last evening, it came as kind of a shock that I was back to loving my home, loving our quiet life, and happy to live here for the rest of my life! I appreciated it.
I went to a funeral last Monday, and as per usual, it kind of put me in a contemplative funk. Especially because it was a funeral for an ex-in-law’s ex-in-law, making us more of outsiders looking in—also a rare experience for us—but still including our family and our family’s family. I guess what I am trying to say is that this particular service brought “people out of the woodwork,” that we haven’t seen in years—some that I have absolutely no memory of, having been a baby when we met—and it was really rather interesting to see who, what, where, and how this extended family was faring in the world. Coming from a family where bad luck seems to be our very best friend (judging by how often we see “him”), it was unfortunately exhilarating to find out that my father’s and my life was rather mundane and quiet. Peaceful, as it were.
I believe that the biggest contributing factor to our plain and monotonous life would be our attitudes. We just don’t have the energy to sweat the small stuff. There is always something to do, people always suck (a favorite of my father’s life lessons—“People suck!”), people in our life continue to die; but we are going to be as happy as we can be today. Even when my brother returned home and his girlfriend basically moved in a couple of months later, what order we did have went straight out the window! But we embraced them, welcomed them, and shifted our routine to accommodate. Our family rarely argues, and we are not known to hold grudges against each other, and yes, we complain on the daily, but it is limited to inside-voices around the coffee pot (instead of the water-cooler, hahaha!). We do our best not to start unnecessary drama with each other. Even when it is a member of the household that is getting our hackles all raised up—for example, my brother cannot clean up after himself to save his life—we discuss it calmly—occasionally not so calmly—with each other, to get the emotions out, and then it’s over. We might say something to Tony, eventually, but it rarely becomes a huge THING that disrupts the household. We love each other intensely. We have looked into each other’s eyes and seen pain that we could not erase, could not ease—the death of my mom hit us all super hard—so we work vigilantly to make sure we do not put more there. We look out for each other.
And a lot of the peace I do get to experience, is facilitated by my father. My dad is a hero of mine. His life was hard, sad, and filled with bittersweet memories; but he survived. He has made something of himself, and with quiet diligence, continues to do so every day. He knows pain, he is good friends with sorrow, and most days are a struggle—but the point is that he still struggles. He still fights. He still lives and laughs and loves, and he does not give up. Maybe it is for my brother and my sake, but we are all grown up now, so that would be awfully caring of him!
So, on this Father’s Day weekend, take a moment to assess your life. Bear in mind that there will always be the poo—the bad stuff that you cannot control—but it is how you deal with it that makes the difference. Two things that help me: 1. Everyone has a story. People suck, you just can’t get around that, but they have a reason! Same coin, different side, those who do not suck, don’t for a reason! You have to give people the benefit of the doubt. This includes parents—good, bad, or crazy—they are who they are for a reason, and you have to cut them some slack. 2. You control you. There are a lot of things we cannot control in this world, but the one thing you can, is you. I know how hard that is sometimes—like it is hard to control how you feel, because things happen and you feel things about those things—but you can control your actions. How you present yourself. How you hope your self-image is projected onto the world. Take a deep breath, and in an instant, your bleak, monotonous, boring, restricted, country life becomes a tranquil, peaceful, beautiful, happy oasis to rest your weary soul!
After seeing family and extended family last week, I have come to re-appreciate my quiet country life. I have no use for the hustle and bustle of the city, for booze-fueled dramatics in public, or for loud angry outbursts to disrupt my peace (I’m sorry family, I love you lots despite). I will take the chill road, thank you, and carry on for another day!