Found, Wrong and Half Present

I just spent an entire week with my parents for the first time since I don’t know when. I stayed a few days at their home on the Eastern Shore before the three of us took off on a (!) road trip (which we all survived without driving each other crazy). The entire excursion might have been nearly conflict free if I hadn’t absent mindedly lost my hotel key card and blamed it on my father.

Dad: I gave it to you.
Me: You did not.
Dad: Yes, I did.
Me: No, you didn’t. Will you at least check your pockets?
Dad: I don’t have it.
Me: I don’t either! . . . . I’ll just go get another one.
Mom: I’ll go with you.
Me (walking to the lobby): If I had the card, it would be right here. I’ve been keeping track of hotel key cards for three straight nights. I know he has it!
Mom (to the desk clerk): My daughter seems to have; well, her father–
Me: Mom, I can talk for myself! We’ve lost the keys to 217, do you need to see my ID?

The clerk promptly gave me a new key, but the argument with mom exploded from there. We retreated to our separate rooms just like it was 1986 (except now I’ve got grey roots and it didn’t even occur to me to turn up the music full blast after shutting-not slamming- the door).

So . . . yeah . . . I had left the key cards on the back seat of the car when we went to dinner. And when I found them the next morning, I admitted it. Both of my parents pointed out that I should have hid them and kept the information to myself. But they raised me better than that. Now, I’m putting it in writing: I was wrong, and my parents were right.

This isn’t the first time in recent months my short (or is it mid?) term memory has failed me. I hate the feeling of not being able to rely on my brain. Perhaps the lesson is to leave open the possibility that I’m wrong even when I know to my core that I’m right. It’s a difficult notion to balance when I’m struggling to raise my overall confidence level.

Instead, I’m going to let the incident be a reminder to let go of my attachment to being right. Right or wrong, I still have intrinsic value. If I wasn’t attached to being right, I could have simply said, “We don’t have the keycard, let’s get another.” The next time I lose something, I’ll try to remember to say to myself, “This is an opportunity to practice letting go of being right.”

As for the warm Hallmarky reflection to tie this post up (after all, the sun is rising on Thanksgiving Day as I type), it would be fitting to offer some poignant sentiment about the amazing gift of being with my parents for not only our Aunt’s 90th birthday but also their 45th wedding anniversary. It would be fitting to do that. I could even do a rewrite lacing in all sorts of gratitude. I could. But my switch is still flipped.

See, I learned about 14 years ago at the end of a nice long visit with my family, that when it comes to goodbyes, there is a switch to be flipped. It’s at the base of the neck just over the collarbone. I remember the moment I discovered it, I was looking at my new niece’s 4 month old face knowing I had fallen in love in a big way. My brother was holding her, and my mom was at my side ready to take me to the airport, Dad was in the car waiting. I felt so overwhelmed with love and mixed feelings about leaving that it seemed impossible to deal; it seemed possible for my entire self to burst into tears. And yet, having a spontaneous fit of sobbing wasn’t the way I wanted to go, so, I flipped the switch. I pretended it wasn’t a goodbye. I went slightly absent, on purpose.

Like this: the hotel key card was lost and found and the week with my parents came to a close; now I’m back west and I don’t know when I’ll see them again. The end.

One thought on “Found, Wrong and Half Present

  1. bravo (as trite as that word is). bravo on a great and well written post. bravo for insight. bravo for families (that squabble and make up and disagree).

    your last paragraph- i feel that every time. every single time.

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