Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Close Call

It was 5:15 on Monday morning, 15 April 2013. I was watching my cat eat his canned food so I could inject him with insulin before leaving for swimming, as is the new routine in my life. Facebook had notified me that Rachel Green had posted on my wall. It was a picture of my parents at a Red Sox game with the caption "your parents are adorable!" My parents befriended three other couples during the sevenites and when I grew up during the eighties, we would spend winter weekends and summer holidays with them. As the decade grew to a close, two of the couples divorced, one (already divorced) remarried and moved to Florida, another relocated in Tanzania and one died. The only members of that original group who keep in touch are my parents and Rachel, the now 41 year old daughter of one of those friends.

There was so much that was captured in that single image, my parents were decked out in their Red Sox gear and my mom was sitting on my dad's lap. They have been together for over forty years, and they're still madly in love with each other. My parents are truly interesting and fun people. They love to travel; each year they go on a 'spring break' (I tease that someday I'll see them on MTV's Beach house). They go watch my dad's beloved Red Sox at a different stadium each year. (BTW, Husband is a Yankees fan -it gets real interesting) In the past year they've seen Sir Paul McCartney and Billy Joel in concert.  They have a lot of friends and love to hold dinner parties. They probably have a much more active social life then we do. They saw almost every Oscar nominated movie this year (using their Senior Citizen discounts at the matinee). When I mentioned to my mother that we hadn't been to the cinema except for the Bond film, she commented "You see, we are cool... and you are not."

It certainly is true as my parents were spending the weekend with someone only 5 years older than me. My local friends look forward to visiting with my parents when they come to visit, which is still odd to me as I remember going through that phase as a teenager when your parents are such an embarrassment to you. My father is Facebook friends with many of our friends here and in England, and he comments on their posts more often than mine! However, as cool and fun as they are; they are still my parents and the complexity of the parent-only child relationship abounds. My father and I have conflicting political views and my mother knows just what buttons to press to irk and annoy me. I am a 36 year old successful professional who still craves her parents' approval.

There were other details I absorbed from Rachel's photo. My parents are starting to show their age. Although my father still has a full head of hair, it's looking quite grey. My mother is wearing glasses. Fortunately, they are both in great health; but I started to wonder how many years of this active life do they have left? More so, I wondered if they will ever be able to share their travels, baseball games and the Macy*s Thanksgiving parade with a grandchild.

I had finished with my morning session when I learned of the bombing at the Boston marathon. I had a friend who had qualified, so I went to check in with her Facebook page to make sure she was okay.
Photo used without permission

I found this email from my parents:

We were at the exact location of the explosion less than 0.1 mile from the finish line, 10 minutes before the bomb detonated. We were on the T at time. Now on the Mass Pike, heading home. Listening to radio coverage. It does not sound good.

 Love Mum and Dad.

It was so surreal. I couldn't believe my parents escaped a brush with death (or a serious injury). More so, I couldn't believe that I didn't know they were at the Boston Marathon. I wouldn't have known that they were in Boston for the weekend, if it weren't for Rachel's photo. My father likes to return to his home stomping ground on Boston's Patriots Day and had always wanted to watch the marathon. I last spoke with them two weeks earlier, and they never mentioned these plans. My parents also live less than ten miles from Newtown, Connecticut and the scene of the horrific school shooting. I am beginning to wonder if there is some kind of black cloud following them. I fear an earthquake might strike then next time they visit us in California.

I started thinking about mortality and began to wonder if I should tell my parents that we are trying to conceive (perhaps not the full story of my miscarriage and infertility issues) so that if they meet their demise before meeting their grandchild, they'll know that we at least tried for them. When my grandmother died, I remembered listening to my father giving the details for her obituary, "No great-grandchildern, but there is one on the way, and she knew about it." I've reviewed the dates; my cousin must have announced when she was only six weeks along. I wrote about my reasons for not telling my parents about our situation in Staying in the Closet . As I acknowledge that my parents hadn't even told me about their weekend plans, I realise that I'm not ready to disclose such a private part of my life. However, I need to talk with them more often. I need to let them know how much they mean to me. I need to do more to let them know how much I love them.


  1. First off, your parents do sound pretty incredible!! Second, holy smokes. That is so scary about them being so close to the bomb site. I'm so glad they were not harmed. I think things like this are so sad but the do help us realize how precious life is and to hold our family and friends a little tighter.

  2. So glad that they are safe. Events like these certainly remind us that life can be short and we should not leave kind words unsaid

  3. My heart aches for what you must have felt reading that email and not even knowing that your parents were there. The fact that they sent you that email to let you know they were okay makes me wonder if they thought you knew about their weekend plans. I would seriously doubt they have a black cloud following them around, more like a silver lining because they were unharmed in both scenarios. Your parents sound amazing! They sound like incredible people that I'm sure love you tremendously. I hope at some point you will feel free to share your plans with them. It makes me a little sad that you don't feel like you can share it with them. It's nice to have the support of those that mean the most to you. I know you have your reasons, but all the same, I hope that one day soon you will be able to have that conversation. Hugs, my friend.

  4. Your parents seem like a real kick! I'm very glad that they were nowhere near the madness when it happened. Such a horrible day.

  5. A beautifully written and thoughtful post. I too think a lot about my parents getting older, as we struggle to conceive. I could relate to a lot of what you said.

  6. I'm so glad that your parents are okay! I had a large number of friends that were at the marathon either volunteering, running, or watching (thankfully they are all unharmed). I also think about my parents getting older- it makes me happy that we were able to move back to Chicago. We are only 30 minutes from them and now I get to see them all the time.

  7. So glad your parents are okay.... I'm sure they will continue their active lifestyles for a long time. I bet that keeps them young!