Sunday, September 20, 2009

8 Miles, 26 Stop Lights, 28 Minutes

A one way trip by car to see my Mom and Dad at their adult family home involves a circuitous 8 mile road trip. There's no such thing as "hopping on the freeway" from where I live; it's more of a "cross town trip" or worse yet, a diagonal northeasterly trek. The drive, depending on traffic, time of day, day of the week and other variables like road work, takes 28 minutes (that's average). Today I counted the stop lights along the route; twenty six. Groan.

I travel this 16 mile round trip at least three times a week, sometimes four. That translates to 48 miles, 156 stop lights, and 2 hours and 48 minutes per week driving time. Sadly, many days I spend more time in the car commuting than I do actually visiting with my parents When I don't go to visit for a few days, I begin to feel "the pull"; the not-so-subtle commentary that comes from both Mom and Dad, the "we're pretty lonely" language interspersed with the everyday conversation we have by telephone. Most of the time when they see me coming through the door I'm greeted with large smiles and am made to feel welcome. But sometimes, especially when I walk in to find them both drowsy or involved in a TV show, my presence is neither here nor there seemingly. There's something wrong with this entire picture I tell myself.

I do my best but I could always do more. When my out-of-town siblings visit they are bastions of energy, coming up with creative ideas to entertain Mom and Dad in and out of their usual surroundings. Me? I'm stalled out and stuck in a rut most of the time doing the best I can to ease my conscience. I so wish I could fix or change what cannot be fixed or changed.

So, every now and then I resort to a whine like today.

I'll go back again tomorrow and do the same thing(s) all over again.

What would I do if I had those extra hours each week?

Probably nothing. Moot point.


  1. Sometimes being present is the best thing we can do, despite how it feels at the time. Would audio books make time in the car pass more easily? Take each moment as it comes.

  2. I feel the same way when I go to visit Sted. I think my expectations are too high, but I don't know what I expect. I talk and she says very little. Yesterday she counted over and over from 1 to way past a 100. She's been doing it that lately. She loves chocolate and I bring that. We go feed the ducks. Very simple things, but we don't have conversation. I always feel sad when I leave and think I should do something more. Maybe this is the way we all feel when we go through this with someone we love. I feel helpless and a little guilty, but I don't know about what...


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