Earlier in the week I wrote about needing to get some rhythm back into my life (Gettin’ Back in My Groove!). One of my routine activities has become a new ritual when my daughter and I have lunch together several times a week. This ritual only began about a month ago when I was declared cancer free. Up until then I wasn’t strong enough to make it happen.
My daughter lived in California for about 7 years from age 20 to 27. She’d probably still be there if she had been able to find meaningful employment and an affordable place to live. She found neither and, in addition, was facing her fourth open-heart surgery in the not too distant future. So about three years ago she came home. I am not a helicopter parent, but I do care deeply about both my children (now ages 31 and 33). Though I didn’t hover much during those 7 years, we did communicate weekly by phone and my husband I visited her once or twice a year. I was happy that she was happy and tried not to interfere with her life.
Needless to say, I did miss her and was excited about the prospect of having her come “home” to live with us until her surgery was well behind her and she was on her feet again. It is now almost three years since the surgery, and she is back on her feet and in her own groove. Though she longs to have a place of her own and a real job, she knows she is in the same boat as so many young adults her age who are experiencing the long-term effects of the 2008 recession. So we try to make the best of a bad situation.
Little did we know that her presence at home was to become so important. After I developed cancer last summer, her caregiving became really important to me. She works part-time at a nearby bookstore and was able to check in on me several times a week during her lunch hour. Since I had a gynecological cancer, she was able to understand some of my needs better than my husband, and make the necessary purchases of items I needed for my care. But most importantly she was my safety net…the one person I could talk to who really understood me and could take care of my emotional needs. Having been through five open-heart surgeries in her short life, she is extremely knowledgeable about medical issues and very compassionate toward those who are suffering.
Now that I am in remission and have fully retired from my job, we are able to have lunch together several times a week. Usually it’s at home; I try to make a healthy, comforting lunch for her because she is on her feet all day and her job is not always pleasant. This small ritual of making lunch for her is my way of paying her back for taking such good care of me. Recently I designated Wednesdays as our going-out-to-lunch day when we try out new places and often return to old favorites. Our Wednesday lunches feel special and help to break up the monotony of these long winter weeks. After 7 years of not seeing very much of her, it is a luxury to have these lunches with her. I know it won’t last forever, so I cherish each and every lunch we have together as a celebration of our mother-daughter connection and how much we have overcome by helping each other.