Shoulders Back, Head Up!

0209161624I’ve lost myself in the past months.

Away from home more often than not, I’ve tended my dying mother. Now I help my elderly father adjust to a change that rocked his world after sixty-six years of marriage.

I’ve been looking for bits and pieces of me. Living in ICU. Meeting with attorneys. Touring assisted-living centers. Taking time to breathe. Barreling back into supporting whoever needs it. I’m fortunate to be able to do this, but it’s a heavy gift to receive.

Such is the path of the caregiver child.

Before things got this crazy and that two-foot stack (the first of several!) of my parents’ records, passports, accounts and ledgers landed on my desk, I ordered my ring from The Explorers Club (founded 1904). It’s my first ring from an institution, having foregone high-school and college senior rings as extravagances. The venerable band of scientists and researchers has counted Churchill, a Roosevelt or two, and Sir Edmund Hillary among its members. I am honored.

I’m a late-in-life adventurer. A fairly traditional rule-follower who decided, once her children were grown, that there was a HUGE world to investigate. I received my master’s degree at fifty. Voracious childhood reading is the foundation of my  wanderlust.

It’s a privilege to indulge in the passion of curiosity, the urge to explore.

0210161025aSo I dig on, through this phase as the facilitator of a family in transition. The ring is symbolic of an independent person who is more than wife, daughter, mother and friend. I’m a sum of those parts, but not defined solely by them. The globe, flag and compass on the ring signify a world beyond today, at this desk, with these onerous responsibilities.

The symbols remind me of tomorrow’s journeys. Things yet to learn. Stories yet to tell. (I have so many!) People to love. Ministries to perform. Life to live.

The ring also represents my mother, who encouraged me all my life to “dare to be different.” And my father, who taught me that I could be anything I worked hard enough and had the talent to become—unlimited by gender.

I’m crouching at this moment on the shoulders of others whose values I carry into the future, centering myself as I prepare to stand upright. The view, which I’m just beginning to glimpse again beyond that two-foot stack of paperwork, is amazing.

Thanks for being here as I regain my footing.

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