In a conversation tonight at dinner, Cheryl became very sad and longing for the past as we started to talk about the holidays coming up. When we were younger we had this huge five bedroom house. Everyone was welcome. My mother and father were still alive. Cheryl’s mother and her gentleman friend, Bob were still alive. Dinners and holidays were loud and raucous with kids coming and going. There was beer and wine. My mother enjoyed gin and tonic. I still order that in a restaurant as a tribute to Mom. We longed for those days. Cheryl became sad in remembrance of those times.
I suppose in a way I did too.
The only constant in life is change. I do not remember if that comes from the Hindu or Buddhist religion but everything is in motion. Embrace the change. Make new memories.
If you let it over take you nostalgia can distract you from the present in much the same way that anxiety about the future does. Most of us have little prescience of what comes next, so anxiety and worry is unwarranted. Our personal history has been lived. Focus on the now.
Many years ago I had a conversation with my father. We had traveled to a local state park near a lake. The idea was to let the kids run around and have a picnic. We were at the little beach area alongside of the lake. The kids were running around having a good time and after a few ounces of refreshments I needed the facilities as did Dad. While standing and staring at the wall inside, my dad remarked that he wished he was a young man again. I think he may have said, “I wish I was eighteen again.” He was making reference to the young girls in their bikinis and his nostalgic memory of youth.
I responded with, “Me, too! But probably for a different reason than you are thinking.”
“When I was eighteen I was still living in your house on your dime. You used to give me money for gas.”, I told him.
“Now I have a wife and three kids to take care of and support. I don’t regret any of that but it was a lot easier when you were taking care of me.” I said.
That is not the exact conversation but merely how I remember it. Dad smiled and remarked that he was not thinking about it that way. Everyone’s nostalgia is different. I had many life conversations with Dad.
Looking back occasionally gives perspective. I realized then that, although ten or fifteen years earlier my life was easier from my perspective, I would not change a thing that was happening now. My now was a wonderful wife, great kids, a wonderful family and a great outing with my children’s grandparents.
It is much the same now. Parkinson’s disease takes a lot of time and although I wish it was not. It is. I am constantly provided with opportunities to be a better husband. Do I want those opportunities? No, I do not but that does not change the fact that with a little bit of attitude change, a little change in perspective I am better at life with my care partner. This is a mutual effort.
So let’s not linger in nostalgic times. They were good times. They are not now times. They are past.