My father passed away at the age of 87 earlier this year and in a somewhat shocking and rebellious act, I, at 59, a devoted mother of four and grandmother of three, didn’t show up for our family Thanksgiving at my daughter’s in Boston. Instead, I sublet my apartment in New York for six months, packed everything that could fit in two suitcases, stuffed even more in a carry-on bag and got on a plane with a one-way ticket to Paris.
My children suggested I do exactly this “when grandpa passes,” they said last Christmas when my dad began his downhill slide. But I don’t believe they believed I would. It’s not that I didn’t gnaw my teeth, toss and turn begging the Universe for signs of approval . . . I had no idea if I could really cover the costs and wander off for six months, take the time to spend time with family and friends overseas … but once I wrapped my brain around it, I knew I would. I love my family but ultimately I opted to opt out.
Life is complicated. My family is complex, composed as it is, of “real” family (direct blood line: my son and daughter), stepfamily despite divorce (legally mine: two daughters, one son-in-law and three grandchildren) and extended family (distant cousins: a couple in Israel with two boys and exchange students from Thailand — with two grown children, Italy — with two children, and Germany — with two grown daughters). Unique relationships with unique individuals, all connected by a unique imagination and an ability to accept each other as family, regardless of DNA — and geography. After five years producing live theater, I have two hits on Broadway in a business that’s extremely challenging and unbelievably rewarding. And for the icing on the cake, I’ve assembled an amazing group of great friends in New York for whom I’m the glue.
And yet, here I am, attempting to piece together the sometimes-easy-sometimes-messy but certainly “colorful” squares that make up the tapestry that is my life, and follow a yellow brick road into my future. Crazy? Maybe, but–
I’m doing it.
Thanksgiving dinner at my daughter’s was just fine without me this year. And (wink) I gave thanks, for mine.
NOTE TO SELF: Fasten your seat belt.