I just finished packing a few things to take with me to Fire Island for my annual Women's Group retreat/talkathon. I wrote about it last year on this blog. I met these women in a workshop a few years ago run by Nancy Samalin, who wrote several books on raising kids. ("Loving Your Child is Not Enough" is one of them.) Actually, three of the women met in the workshop when their kids were very young and then I met one of them when our kids were teens.
Anyway, we like to say that we all have interesting kids who have given us some challenges, but we love them and they are doing well now. I think that when kids are between the ages of 12-19 they really should live on a kibbutz somewhere. (Sorry, Zoe, if you're reading this. Fortunately, I don't think she ever does.) They could come home for holidays, or maybe we could switch kids - but those are difficult years and although I miss Zoe now that she's living in San Francisco, I don't miss those years. I miss her though.
I'm reading a book about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon called "Girls Like Us." Julie loaned it to me earlier in the week. I'm having a tough time getting into it, but I'm interested enough in those women and the times they have lived in, to continue with it. I think between them they've been married and in serious relationships with several hundred different men (although they shared a few too.) James Taylor is one that comes to mind, but I'm sure as I read further I'll discover some others they dated or married.
All I know is that tomorrow, when I'm walking on the beach and swimming in the pool, and talking with my friends and wishing that Mia was there making rhubarb, I imagine that I will be quite content. I love Fire Island and discovered it only a few years ago, even though I grew up on Long Island, not that far from it. I love that there are no cars and the beaches are so beautiful. I love riding a bike there and having barbecues. Summer in the city isn't ideal, but it's better than winter. And when I get a chance to escape the city and spend time in nature, especially around water, I feel so grateful.
Sometimes I think about my mother and I miss her. It's easy to say, "Well, she lived to be 96, what more could you ask for?" And these past seven or eight years have been quite difficult. But it's still hard to believe that her very strong presence in my life is over (in the a physcial way) and I can't help but feel sad that I'll never have another conversation, or sit by her side, or hear her laugh, or curse.
I know that many of my friends have lost parents when they were young or have parents that they have very mixed feelings about. When I lost my dad nineteen years ago I had a lot of ambivalence. He loved me I know, but he really didn't put a great deal of effort into our relationship so I can't say that I missed him that much. I loved him too and I am grateful that he lived as long as he did. He had a fantastic sense of humor and he loved food. Often that was the topic of our conversations, what we had for lunch, what we wanted for dinner, what restaurant he was going to. I wish that he had been able to pursue a career that he was more suited to - comedy writing or food critic. In those days people rarely had those kinds of opportunities. He made me laugh and my friends liked him. I have heard that they liked my mother too and she did have a strong life force.
I hope if there is such a thing as reincarnation that my father comes back as a chef and my mother comes back as a gardener. Or if I were really mean, she could come back as the chef and he as a gardener.