Since I graduated from college, a typical visit to my hometown consisted of a long weekend for Thanksgiving or Christmas. Then a few years ago, buoyed with the recent installation of central air conditioning in my childhood home, I spent two weeks with my parents in northern New Jersey during the height of summer.
Two weeks is quite a leap after years of quick three to four day visits. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, perhaps because it is never easy to let go of family baggage from the past, however residual. But you know what? It was lovely. The kids basked in their grandparents’ attention, while I took walks around the block under the tall trees which were scraggly-looking saplings when we first moved in. I read books rediscovered from childhood bookcases. I ate familiar food, prepared by familiar hands. I went on the ten-minute stroll to the park that seemed so far away when I was nine years old. And on this visit, I had the luxury of time, so that rather than the pressurized, almost manic interludes that signal a family holiday get-together, there was just an ordinary week.
During those summer days, I saw that my eldest child gets her sweetness from my mother, and that my middle one gets her compassion from my father, and that my youngest gets her generosity from both of them. Good things. Things I might not have attributed to my parents in the past for a host of complex reasons. But there they are. And I felt humbled, because I have a lot to learn. As fast as I ran away that’s how slowly I ambled back home. And for the first time there was recognition, and peace.
Fear less, hope more
Whine less, breathe more
Talk less, say more
Hate less, love more
And all good things are yours.
— Rowena Zimmerman