The Safety Net

I’m feeling nostalgic this afternoon. I’m more about looking forward than looking back, but yesterday I closed Dad and Mom’s estate. It’s finished. Over. Done.

I do not think about my folks every day.  I’m too busy with other things. I didn’t think of them every day when they were alive and kicking (as Dad would say), and I’m sure they didn’t think of me each and every day.

But they were always there as an invisible safety net. And it was a net that saved me several times, although I didn’t think of it that way, back then.

When my job at a Denver college ended with the school year, I went to my folks’ house for the summer and to work on my master’s thesis. I’m unsure I accomplished much on it that summer except visiting my former roommate in Fayetteville to use the university library and going to Gettysburg to see the battlefield before I wrote that chapter. Mostly I laid out by the pool and lived off my folks, but I sure didn’t see it that way, back then.

Years later when Jim and I sold our house in a week’s time (who knew that could happen?) we stored belongings in their basement and stayed with my folks for a few weeks until we made the move to Tulsa. They were glad to have us, Mom said, and she told me later she cried after we left. I think that was mostly because our nearly one-year-old had taken a shine to her, and she would miss him. I’m sure I thanked Mom and Dad for their hospitality, but I don’t think I realized how very much they had helped us, back then.

A few nights ago, I sat in my Grandma Boyd’s old chair holding our grandson, and I wondered how many babies had been held in that chair. Grandma was a mother of eleven kids and grandmother to forty-some grandkids. I know some of her kids came home to roost at different times, so she and Grandpa were an invisible safety net, too.

And yet…the safety net isn’t just a place to stay for a few weeks while logistics get settled.

After each of my folks died, we had a party, and those who came had to say one good thing about the deceased. At Mom’s party, our son Landon said, “She always made me feel loved. Always.”

That’s the safety net. Love.