I went to visit my parents for the first time in almost two years. The first year was mainly because of the pandemic and lockdown restrictions, but then last October we had a huge falling out. We've spoken since then, but the prospect of actually seeing them or going to their house was just too much for all these months. It's caused me a lot of stress and worry and depression, and I even briefly considered cutting all ties with them when things hit their lowest point. Even after they both apologized for hateful and hurtful things they had said to me, I didn't feel comfortable around them for a long time. I still don't, sometimes. Setting boundaries and protecting my own mental and emotional health has been so hard. I've felt really guilty about it all no matter how much I try to reason with myself that I'm doing the best I can.
The main reason I finally decided to woman up and go visit them is because my dad's health is really bad. Really, really bad. My dad's basic personality is sweet and gentle, although rapidly declining health, myriad medications, and some mental health conditions have led to a few outbursts. Overall, he's still my dad though, and he wanted to see me. My mom and my relationship with her is much more complicated, and that's been the bigger source of stress for me. I was nervous about seeing her for the first time in so long but I decided it was time.
Well, when I walked in the door my mom came and put her arms around me and started to cry. She held on to me for a long time and sobbed softly against my shoulder. It broke my heart. Just shredded my heart to pieces.
My dad was glad to see me, too, and I'm really glad I got to see him. His physical condition is somewhat shocking. If he suddenly up and died today, I wouldn't be surprised-- that's how grim things are. What did surprise me is how much my mom's physical and mental health have declined in the past two years, too. They're both in pretty bad shape.
We had a nice enough visit despite how sad I felt the whole time. Mom cooked a roast and we had lunch together. Dad kept up a cheerful demeaner and made a few jokes. I admired the new fence they had installed outside and the neat, well-kept flower beds in front of the house. Then I told a lie and said that I had to be back in Florence at 3pm for an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. I'd promised myself that I'd find a graceful way to leave after two or three hours if I needed to, and I did. I intend to visit again relatively soon, though, and I told them so.
I didn't cry until I was in the car and on the road back home.
Me and my dad, circa 1982 or so.