As you get older you have, more and more, to cope with the results of decisions you made and actions you took in the past; often many years ago. You cope with them, as does everyone else, while regretting the fact that the results often return to bite you on the bum when you wish that they wouldn’t.
For me, chief among these was something created by my transient childhood; my tendency to up sticks and start anew when difficult circumstances presented themselves. As a result, I now have my eldest children and their children living in the Harrogate area while I am 200 miles away, back in my native city with my second family. This all came about from an initial decision I made nearly 40 years ago followed by another some 10 years later. So, every two months I travel to Yorkshire to stay with my kids for a couple of days. When we’re together, we slot into the roles that we’ve occupied for most of our lives; in my case for 50 years as a father and theirs, since they were born. No matter what happens, I’ll always be their dad and they will always be my children, even though they now have children of their own.
What’s interesting is to witness them with those children. In the case of my son now, as was his father, a single parent trying to get by in difficult circumstances and making a great job of bringing up young Michael. In the case of my daughter, carrying on, much as she has always done, being caring and immensely capable. The latter, I take for granted while the former is demonstrated best by her DIY skills and the fact that she has her own set of tools in a, rather large, metal carrying case; much to the disbelief of her colleagues when something recently needed dealing with at work. I wonder where both of them got these abilities from and admit to a certain pride, tinged with worry, in regard to them and the lives they’ve made for themselves.
Yet, while it’s lovely to be with them, leaving doesn’t get any easier; something I expect is the same for most people. I do, however, wonder what might have happened had I managed to break that template of my childhood at a much earlier stage in my life. Perhaps that’s why a Robert Frost poem remains my favourite. It’s entitled “The Road Not Taken”.