Change is part of parenting. You watch your children change from newborns, to toddlers to teens in what seems like the blink of an eye. As a parent, you change and grow with your child. You watch, wonder and live even more fully as your child learns to ride a bike, roller skate, hit a baseball or score a soccer goal. Birthday parties, Halloween costumes and Christmas mornings are all so much more meaningful witnessed through the eyes of a child.
Through all of those changes and life lessons you spend hours and hours thinking of what is best for your child. You look for the best school, the best summer camp, the best tutors. You make mistakes and corrections. And you hope that you don’t screw them up too much. Then there comes a time when you are at the precipice of a child leaving home and you realize: “This is it”. No more do overs. No more adjustments. No more time. It is like turning in your final exam and you don’t yet know if you have passed the test. You look back on a childhood provided, full of smiles, tears, good days and bad.
Everything is on the verge of transformation. There is a blank space where the future lies. Will he be a success? Will he be happy? Will he be safe? Will I be ok? Who am I when I am not a full time parent? What will I do with all of this time?? The majority of my life has been devoted to a human being whose success and happiness will ultimately take him away from me. In the end you realize your child has grown into a man that is ready to tackle the world and become a productive member of society. It’s a bittersweet ending but also a time of new beginnings. And more change to come.
The bottle of Christian Dior “Poison” pefume sits silently under my sink. Periodically as I shift gels and brushes or lotions around I run across it. It is the gift my father gave me on my 15th birthday. One of the few things that physically reminds me of his presence in my life. I remember how great it was to have been reunited with him after six years of having left my home and extended family in Mexico to continue the education that was my birthright in the US.
For Mexicans a girl’s “Quinceanera” or fifteenth birthday is a big deal. It is her entrance into womanhood. The day is typically celebrated with a splendid and somewhat formal party. For me, it was a homecoming. It was celebrated by being reunited with my father. Along with that reunion came this gift. Th
at single gift of perfume has traveled with me across many states through many days and even decades.
Every time I run across it I carefully wipe the dust off the top, open it and smell that familiar scent. Somehow I have never truly owned that scent. It is not the typical smell for a teen but it was what he chose to give me.
The haunting scent sits within it’s dark container waiting to remind me of a relationship long gone. A relationship that once bought me to tears. It reminds me that my Dad loved me at some point. That he cared enough to bring me pears every Sunday and watch me dance and act while he struggled to keep his eyes open. It reminds me that in the short time we had he let me take the wheel of his car in a quiet street in Mexico City for my first driving lesson. It brings back his customary bear hug, his deep blue eyes and taylored suit.
There were many disappointments in our relationship. Failings on both sides. Time lost. His legacy however was a commitment to my education. It was his greatest gift to me along with a singuar bottle of “Poison” perfume.