Sunday, July 20, 2014

How do you say goodbye?

This summer is filled with packing and leaving.
The children, as is true every year, packed up and left the building, knowing 
(though not entirely understanding) that they would not be preschool Big Cats anymore.
We teachers, at the school year's end, spent a busy week packing up our classrooms for our move to our new school this August.
Now, here in July, I am at my parents' house in South Carolina, packing them up to move to a retirement community up north.

Packing and leaving.
A summer filled with boxes.
A summer filled with emotions.

How do you say goodbye?
I believe it is so important to 
and identify
and hone in
on all the little, ordinary actions that
comprise your life
and recognize these,
celebrate these,
embrace their significance.

That last day of school, we celebrated saying goodbye to the walking rope.
Honestly, I don't know who was more excited - 
the children, 
for whom "no more walking rope" is a matter of pride, knowing that they are now advancing to pre-K (and they will simply hold hands with a partner as they walk)?
Or me?  
I know I will no longer be using a walking rope every single day at the new building, because, 
yes, yes, yes, we will have green space right on our premises!

We lined the children up 
one last time
with the walking rope.
I emphatically asked 
each pair of children  -
Do you feel ready for Pre-K?
Do you agree that you no longer need this walking rope?
With each enthusiastic "YES!,"
I symbolically cut a ring off   
of this torn, old, worn out rope. 
"Go forth!" I encouraged.
The children walked two by two
towards the dumpster and
threw their ring away.

It was important to me that we "say goodbye to the walking rope" and
the children loved it.

Now, here at my parents' house,
I'm daring to take my Dad down memory lane, too.
I'm hoping that what works with preschoolers 
will soothe him 
and me
as well.

This isn't a family home that we are saying goodbye to.
Perhaps this makes it easier for me and my brothers?
My parents retired here and had some twenty good healthy years in this location.
But now, with my Mom having dementia and 
my Dad with Parkinson's and other physical ailments (perhaps due to all his caregiving),
they are leaving here for a retirement community
close to family.

Mom is already safely ensconced in her new home, 
surrounded by 24 hour care, and
the love and attention of my oldest brother and his family.

My other three brothers and I are here in South Carolina with Dad,
packing and

In the midst of all the boxes,
we are going down memory lane with him,
doing routine things together,

coffee at Sunrise Cafe, 
looking for dolphins at the ocean,
hush puppies and a cold beverage at South Beach,
attending church at Holy Family,
listening to Frank Sinatra, Willy Nelson, Jim Croce on the porch,
eating Philly cheesesteaks from Publix,
walking the neighborhood.

How do you say goodbye?
May it be as soothing for my 85 year old father 
as it was for my preschoolers.

My brothers (Sonny, David, Ralph), my father, and me, attempting a selfie as we begin packing.


  1. I'm on vacation yet somehow I was drawn to read. So glad I did. Beautifully written & bittersweet, Maureen. Hugs to you & your family!

  2. I adore the selfie. Family is beautiful and I am glad you had time with yours this July.