Friday, June 5, 2009
Across The Street
Its symbolized by a stack of paperwork on the kitchen table that never moves.
A few file folders, a bunch of bills, some school registration forms and maybe a book or two. Lots of Post-Its.
Its often a joke around my parents house – that stack of paper.
If my mom is reading this right now, she’s smiling I’ll bet.
But I want to tell you what it represents.
The other day, I was at my parents house picking up my daughter, and I saw the stack. (It seemed to be growing larger.) Not all of the paperwork is urgent… its just important enough not to toss. It basically represents a long to-do list.
Yet, the other day when I noticed it again, neither my mom nor my step-dad was inside. No one was at the kitchen table working on the stack.
Instead, my step-dad was across the street, helping his neighbor move some furniture. My mom was at the same house; weeding.
But let me step back a moment.
I loved the neighborhood I grew up in. My parents house was at the top of a cul-de-sac, perfect for riding bikes with the neighborhood kids.
We knew our neighbors names. Their kids were my best friends growing up. Sometimes we would have Christmas parties together and put on a little talent show. I enjoyed the neighborhood.
Except for one house.
As a little girl, I was afraid of the man who lived there, because one time I hit a baseball into his garage and he said "Its mine now!" and slammed the door. He and his wife didn’t have small children, so I assumed he didn’t like any children. Therefore, it was the one house I skipped when I sold Girl Scout cookies.
I remember my step-dad telling me a story that years ago, his car wouldn’t start and he desperately needed a ride to the airport. He began knocking on neighbors doors, seeing if anyone was home. When he got to that house, and the man answered, my step-dad humbly asked for a ride. The answer was no, and the door was shut.
Even after all these years, its the one house I ignore when I drive into my parents driveway to visit.
A month ago, my mom called me and sounded serious. She informed me that the man who lived there had just passed away suddenly. He left behind his wife, who was on vacation when he passed.
Can you imagine being that woman? I pictured her, on an airplane, knowing when it landed at Sea-Tac that she’d be coming home to an empty house. It broke all of our hearts – so my parents decided to do something about it.
I have watched my parents, over the course of the past month, carry over food, mow her lawn, weed her garden, do her laundry, fix her lightbulbs, feed her cats, and everything else under the sun. What’s more is that they spend time with her. Sometimes at night, when the sun is going down, my parents go over just to watch television with her, so she's not alone. And I know for a fact that its not their choice of programming. They simply sit with her on the couch, and laugh with her at the comedy on television, so that shes not by herself.
So, what does this have to do with the stack of paperwork?
It would be easy for my parents to be too “busy” to do any of these things. They both work, they take care of my daughter in the afternoon when I’m on-air, and they have active lives. Its not like they are sitting around each day looking for something extra to do. Their plate is full. And the stack of papers proves it. Plenty of bills to pay, plenty of decisions to make, plenty of things to get done for the next day.
Yet they prioritize. The paperwork can wait another day.
They choose to walk across the street.