change: verb- (used with or without object)
"different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone"
"to transform or convert"
"to become altered or modified"
"to make change or an exchange"
"to pass gradually into"
Some fear change; some embrace it. Change wasn’t something I grew up with; I neither feared nor embraced it. I didn’t have to. Parents never divorced ... same school ... pretty much same kids for 12 years. Cheerios for breakfast ... hot lunch served by women in hairnets ... meat and potatoes for supper.
Went to undergrad 45 minutes away from parents. Okay, so I did change my major three times (biology/radio broadcasting/theatre). Not much of a rarity in today’s college scene.
Moved to Michigan ... grad school ... first big change … 1,200 miles away from all that I knew and loved. Parents supported me, but I know this was also a huge change for them. We all cried as my parents drove away that day in August 1997. I realized this definition of change "different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone" needed to occur. It was suggested I do this, so I did.
After a period of transition, which I guess has to go along with change, I had "to transform or convert" (thrive) or stay stagnant (wither), and therefore return home to the past. And I have "become different" in the 10 years I lived out in this place. I have met people who have enriched my existence 100 fold. Fostered cats, and adopted my furry buddy Target. I have realized my potential, my creativity, maybe a passion or two, even a sense of security ... not at EMU, but a sense of being “home”, “loved.” Can’t say things have been too bad. Have I wanted something different for the last two years; a different sense of security ... a chance to lead and not follow ... yes. But I’ve had this place to fall back on, a Linus’s blanket to hold on to.
A phone call in August 2007 changed that whole mentality, and Linus’s blanket was ripped away from him. My change in my 34 years, almost 35, has mostly been of my own accord, on my own terms. My mother’s change, however, is unrestrainable, uncompromising and unforgiving. Alzheimer’s disease is forcing her "to become altered or modified" without her permission. Rewiring, unplugging those ever important synapses. Forgetting names of people she has known for 30 years ... simple tasks she has known how to do since her mother taught her as a girl ... this is another blog entry for another time.
So here I was at a crossroads, a place where I either needed to stay here or "to make a change or an exchange." Swap one life for another - almost instantaneously. Finish the year of teaching and move. Move back to a place where I knew no change growing up. Parents still together. Cheerios are still in the cupboard. I’m sure the lunch ladies are still wearing those hairnets ... and Mom still makes meat and potatoes for supper. I still even have friends I grew up with living the dream in my hometown. I choose the exchange, the swap, the handoff, the interchange the transfer. What else could I do? Can I do? There was/is no question. I will make the change.
Present day: I sit here writing these thoughts (at Primo’s Coffeehouse) for my own therapy, understanding, and maybe for others who read this. Earlier today I made a list of “things to do” before I leave Michigan. I’m searching for a place to live who takes cats. Some people suck, yep, they just suck. I’m choosing to live close enough to my parents to be there in an hour, yet still keeping sane by living in a city that has a Barnes & Noble’s, a coffeehouse (not to be confused with a cafe where you can get a burger and fries) and a mall. I’m not sure if I could be without any one of these three in close proximity, especially the coffeehouse. Teaching jobs are few and far between, especially in my field. I’ve put out feelers, waiting patiently for responses. May have to be a substitute teacher. You remember, you made fun of them and made their day miserable. Ahhh, youth. I hear Wal-Mart needs greeters. I despise Wal-Mart and all it stands for. These will pay the bills; keep me in kitty litter and bread.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for pity, .the “oh so sad” stuff. I’m pretty okay with all of this. I knew sooner or later aging parental concerns were going to come my way. And I’m trying not to sacrifice my happiness, my dreams or my life for theirs. But there comes a time where that part of “being an adult” isn’t so fun. Taking care of parents who have taken care of you in so many ways. The circle of life (ala The Lion King), I guess.
So I make my last change for a while. My life "passing gradually into" another’s. Slowly, but almost certainly, into the role of the caregiver - the parent to my elderly parents.
It is done out of love.