Let me off this emotional roller coaster ride! That’s what this month since the shift from old year/new year has been like, for myself and others. A friend summed it up in a Facebook post ’You wake up grateful… for jumping feet first off of broken roller coaster rides.”
There have been highs, like taking on bigger work projects for fun new accounts. And lows, like making it through the holidays alone. Then more highs like my son turning 25. And graduating college. On the same day! And more lows like missing him, as he’s several states away. Highs like meeting new friends and sharing belly laughs. Lows like severed connections with old friends and family. You know. Life.
Seeking the perfect, poignant graduation gift, I sifted through three huge totes of photograph albums, scrapbooks, and loose photos to compile a slideshow of my son’s life. Set to music, it followed the continuum of his family. From nursing home visits to meet his great grandparents; to happier times shared with all four grandparents, two of whom have since passed on. The story of his parent’s courtship, marriage, divorce, and continuing friendship. His graduations from kindergarten, high school, and college as milestones of achievement.
In one poignant photo in a sterile hospital bed, my father presented my son with his gold Longines watch. Dad’s name is engraved, along with the date of his retirement from the one company he’d worked for all his life. We engraved my son’s name below. This surprise happened well in advance of graduation, since we didn’t know how many good days Dad had left, and it was important to him to present the gift in person. And to someday be remembered each time his Grandson wore his old/new watch.
So many tears spilled out of my eyes and heart during the making of this slideshow, partly from missing my own grandparents, along with a few laughs. The roller coaster plummeted, then lifted again. Although I chose different music for the final soundtrack, the theme song from the Lion King kept playing in my head:
It’s the Circle of Life and it moves us all
Through despair and hope, through faith and love,
Till we find our place on the path unwinding.
What I’ve learned about the roller coaster ride is that it doesn’t stop. Until it does. One day it will be my turn to jump off, feet first. Hair mussed. Exhilarated. Having kept my hands in the air and heart wide open the whole time.
Think: What memories do you have from childhood that are important to you to share? Do you have any heirlooms or hand-me-downs that symbolize your connection with family members?
Say: Tell your story while you have the ability to give this gift. Write it down. Compile a photo album. Make a movie. It can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.
Do: Tell your loved ones how important they are to you. Perhaps symbolize your connection with a tangible gift. Something to remember you by, someday.