In some ways time seems to pass so slowly that it is as if it has stopped all together, and in other ways you feel like it is fast-forwarding in front of your eyes. This weekend I travelled down to Connecticut to celebrate my mother’s 85th birthday. While there, my family got together to take her to a birthday brunch in her honor. And as we sat around the table sipping Bellini’s and enjoying nicely prepared food at a lovely little restaurant I couldn’t stop my mind from considering the passage of time. Other than my mother, the gathering included my siblings, their spouses and one of my nephews (the other eight grandchildren, spread across the Eastern United States were not able to be present for one reason or another.)
It was like so many other gatherings of family in recent years, family dynamics scripting the interplay between characters in an ongoing and predictable story. In other ways I was very aware of all the changes in the players who are the people I have known all my life. Though we all interact with one another in varying though constant ways, we do not get together every day and the space of time fast-forwards the action in chunks rather than giving you the slow progression of the story line. Talks of possible wedding engagements, college graduations and career developments for the younger generation of the family – caused me to once again have to do the reality check that I was part of the middle generation of adults not the young woman visiting from college herself. And the milestone of turning 85 firmly planted my mother in the older generation that I had for a long time resisted seeing her a part of.
What was most notable to me were not the physical changes that we are all going through, but the other less obvious changes in the characters at the table. We are all the same people we have always been and yet we are all different from the people I would have described ten, twenty or thirty years ago. And these changes were not simply about life stages as much as they seemed to be actual personality shifts. As if traits that had been present in a quieter way had shifted position internally and birthed a new participant. It is possible that it is more about the lens through which I now view this group of people – but it is not all about that. We have changed, we have all changed. Some relationships have strengthened and others have grown more distant. The ingredients of our days and focus of our energies have transformed, it is the old familiar group and a new cast all at the same time.
It was another reminder that all is always in a state of flux. You can speculate about the future but you cannot predict it with certitude. Relationships and people will morph and change and you will change along with them. Make the best of all the moments of your life because you never know what the next will bring; it can be a bit unsettling at first, but it is not dull and the possibilities can be very exciting. Happy Birthday Mom…