06/16/08 5:50PM By Ruth Page  Download MP3
History is so packed with turning points, they're too much to deal with. Here's one closer to home. WHEN did the Page children become our parents? Maybe when they were in junior high and high school - they sat us down and they said, "Mom, you and dad are living the past. Both of you work at the office out in Essex all day. Then you come home, daddy sits down with the paper and you make dinner. After dinner, you do the dishes and dad reads. Why?"
We turned toward each other. We were sort of startled. We'd been behaving like our parents but we did both have jobs outside the home. Proc said, "Kids, my god, you're right. From now on I do the dishes." And he did. For us that was a big turn. It made us think about our relationship in a healthier way. (I never had the kids do the dishes in high school; 'cause I thought homework and outdoor exercise were more important. "You're raising a bunch of shirkers," said our friends. "Oh, really?" we said. We ended up with three workaholics.)
Our next big turn came years later. The kids decided when we had to move to Wake Robin. We adored our little house on Appletree Point with its beach right on Lake Champlain, and we loved to swim and ice-skate there. We were there 51 years.
The kids said, "No. Go to Wake Robin NOW." (We were 80 years old at the time). But Proc said, "I don't want to move in with all those old people. How can we leave this Lake?" "YOU are old people," said the kids. "And daddy has had diabetes for years, and he has a wonky heart. Go." So the next year we were at Wake Robin.
The three kids were a tower of strength when Proc died after we'd been at Wake Robin for two happy years. Now, they're taking care of me even though I don't think I need it. If the roads are slippery, Candy insists she has to pick me up to take me to her house for dinner. I've been driving Vermont roads for years. If I dine with Patti's family, way out in Colchester, she insists I call her up when I get back so she knows I'm safe. I point out that even though I'm as old as they tell people I am (I'm 87) I do have good tires and I've got working headlights.
Shades of all the years when they were impatient with me because I couldn't fall asleep at night when they were out on dates until I was sure they'd gotten home.
So in a way, I understand. But now I hear, "Maybe you should leave while it's still light, Mom", or "Oh, it's starting to snow - head home before it gets bad!"