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Papa Times Five

Papa Times Five

I’m 59 years old and for 37 of those years I’ve been caring for children.

That is the realization that struck me like a high school football team a few months ago when our youngest son left home and transferred to a four year college in Southern California. “How can this be?” if anyone is reading this or should ask. None of the children stayed beyond the age of 20 (though a few returned every now and then for short or prolonged stays). I didn’t have my first child as a teenager, and I didn’t marry into a family that already had children. Everyone came by choice, when and how we wanted.

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At the age of 23 I married a kind woman who wanted to have children as much as I did. She also worked in the health care field and cared for others. Shortly after we married, our daughter Darcy was born and two years later she birthed our son Brendan. About four years after that we adopted Jason (who was 4 at the time), but it turns out that that is not something she wished to do. We separated and I became a single parent of Jason, with Darcy and Brendon staying with us half of the week.

About a year later, I met Audrey, who tentatively became a step-mother when we married the following year. After getting my vasectomy reversed, we had a child named Shona (who was the last to recently leave home). Shortly after Shona was born, we had our 14-year-old foster daughter Leti move in with us.

If you’ve kept track so far, that makes five children. Darcy and Leti both married and each now have two children, so we don’t have any lack of children around, but it’s quite different. The wonderful grandchildren are Jupiter, Ilee, Lola and Neiva. Audrey and are are respectively known as Oma and Opa.

When I mention that our last adult child has left home, friends say things like, “Oh, you have an empty nest.” Or, “That must be hard.” Or,”It must be nice having the house to yourself.” It’s difficult to give a definitive reply, as it feels like a combination of all the above. At times I miss the kids. At others, it is wonderful to have time alone. And at other moments I’m not sure what I’m feeling. Knowing all the children and grandchildren are fundamentally healthy and happy, alleviates a lot of anxiety and worry. Of course, there are always a mixture of feelings when there are issues of concern or difficult transitions.

So, out of choice (Was it really choice or conditioning or karma?), I’ve been partially creating, raising and nurturing children for well beyond half of my life. I have no regrets.

I wonder if we should perhaps adopt another child who needs a home? Why not 4 or 5 more? Oh yeah, there is the reality that they are with you the rest of your life, whether they leave home or not and unlike radishes or broccoli, you can’t just plant them in the soil and water them once a week for them to grow into adults. It takes a little more attention and love that that, as I’ve discovered five times (so far).

Our Ancestor’s Children

Not that long ago, I used to think people that were grandparents were very very old. Now, that I am one, I don’t see my self as an “older” person, let alone as ancient as I once thought such generations to be.

Our oldest daughter and her wife had their daughter Ilee (our granddaughter) just over a week ago and she is amazing and beautiful. Our other daughter and her husband, had their wonderful and bright son (our grandson), just about 2 years ago and they are coming to visit us for a week.

It all seems so natural, being a grandparent and being called GaPa or Opa, Grandma or Omi. It’s as if this was always meant to be and the lines of humanity continues. Of course, it’s happening all the time and we are one continuous thread since the beginning of life on this planet, but it seems even more real when it is happening so close to home.

We truly walk on the back of our ancestors or they are at our side (depending on how you relate to them) in everything we think, do or say. The energy from the past travels into the present and the energy we react with and live with now undoubtedly spreads into and shapes the future. The awareness of this reality calls me to be conscious and make wise choices. It calls us all up to take responsibility for ourselves, our communities and our planet.

This is not a matter of doing good or being a “good” person in order to fulfill some imagined self-image of who or what we “think” we should be; it is a matter of physics, action/reaction, science and self-sustaining necessity. The adage that “There is only one of us here” has never been more blatantly apparent and reflected within our world. I pray that I (we) do not turn away and anesthetize ourselves with illusion, suffering and self-imposed forgetfulness.

Even though our species has thrived for thousands of years, many others are now extinct. There is no guarantee that ours will continue. We cannot promise our children or our children’s children that they will continue to carry on their ancestor’s lives and spirits. As long as there is breath, there is hope. I hope I live to see great great grandchildren and continue to have the capacity to love and be loved. More importantly, I hope all forms of life on this planet traveling through space has the opportunity to do likewise.

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