GOING HOME FROM THE ALF
I hear their voices in the hall.
“Goodbye for now.” “We’ll be back next week.” “Take a walk down the hall.” “Check what’s on TV.” “It’ll be sooner than you think.” “Have a good day.” “Enjoy yourself.” And etc., etc., etc.
The sounds of going home; adult children leaving a mother or father after a Sunday visit to our Assisted Living Facility.
The apologetic voices linger after the “kids” have pushed open the front doors leading to the parking lot. The voices echo in the hallway. The voices remain stenciled in the ears of the parents.
They are re-spoken by the parents at the dinner table.
As twice told tales. Dinner conversation. Commiseration.
There’s a sadness. An empty feeling in the heart. A clench in the stomach. A quietness. A slowness of movement.
It’s the emptiness one feels alone in the room, gazing out the window; worse on a gray, rainy day, as the drops sprinkle the puddles gathered on the black pavement of the parking lot, where the visitors have stationed their cars to – only so briefly – bring togetherness, family, love, or to just stand there awkwardly, and then return to their cars, leaving dispiritedness in the wake of high spirits and warm feelings.
We had visitors come to our group home, only to go to their separate homes. A visit – the obligatory, necessary, their-own-lives-to-live, their-own-children-to-love, their-own-problems-to-solve, their-own-issues-to-settle, their-own-marriages-to-hold-together – visit.
We parents gave them shelter to roost and nurture to fly away.
That’s what they’re doing now, while we stay, aching to fly home with them.