Life Matters

Flowers with a big, orange bow

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To try to keep my brain molecules working, I play Wordscapes on my phone. It is shaped like a crossword puzzle and 7 letters are listed at the bottom. One has to make words to fit into the puzzle. Inevitably, there is one last word for which there are no apparent answers. No matter how many times I rejuggle the letters and no matter how hard I think, the final answer eludes me. At that point, I put it away for another day. The next day when I play, for some odd reason, my mind just looks at the letters and can clearly see the word that had escaped me the day before. Automatic realization of the answer!

These automatic realizations can be found in other areas of life. Marie, my daughter, has been my child since she was adopted at the age of 7. Hubby and I love her and care for her, despite the many tragic events that she has put us through. When she and I were discussing her last escapade to Florida, she confided that she almost died twice (of cocaine overdoses given to her by her captors). It was a realization to her that all of my warnings and concerns about her safety were correct and not just spouted out of my mouth to be a mean parent. She realized that she did not know best and had made some dangerous and foolish mistakes in the past. Feeling like the vindicated parent, I told her that I was proud of her for coming to that conclusion.

Just this morning, a more startling revelation bonked me on the head. A friend of Marie's had died, and her brother was bringing her to the out-of-state funeral because I had to work. She was grief stricken about his death (in fact, it was when she learned he had died several days ago that she had confided in me that she had almost died in Florida). In preparation for the funeral, Marie walked up to Stop & Shop and used her own meager money to buy a bouquet of flowers with a big, orange bow. She was so proud of her purchase! It was a pretty display, but the flowers at the funeral would be much more ornate, and I hoped that the recipient would appreciate the ones Marie presented. Knowing that money is also given at funerals, she craftily rolled up four $5 bills and slipped them in and among the flowers. It was at that point that I was struck by the fact that Marie is an adult. She is independent and likes to buy her own clothes and personal items, and she uses her own money for them. Somehow, her knowing the basics of what to do for a funeral seemed to be the tipping point from her being my daughter to her being my adult daughter. I can't help but smile and feel proud of the extent of her independence.

How many of us as parents tend to see our adult children still as children? The tables have turned, and I have to resist the urge to worry about caring for Marie. She can care for herself and make her own choices, even if I don't agree. (I am sure she doesn't agree with my old-fashioned clothing and hairstyle, or the way I hoard money to pay the bills rather than spending it on fun things.) Marie has a tongue piercing and lip piercings. I hate them, but it is her life and her way of showing her unique identity. The dolphin tattoo on her wrist calms her down when she looks at it (remembering the time when she was younger and we took her to Discovery Cove where she swam with the dolphins.) The hands and crucifix on her shoulder are comforting to her as a remembrance of her grandmother (my mom). She has a Pokémon tattoo on her ankle that always makes her smile. Yes, the realization that my daughter is an adult has just hit me. I have to trust that we raised her to the best of our ability and she will carry on that legacy, even if it is in her own way.

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