Thursday, August 4, 2016

A Difficult Decision

How are decisions made? Maybe you weigh the pros and cons, draw a T-chart, calculate the risks and so forth. Or you just dive in and hope the water is deep enough so as not to crack your skull on the bottom. I don't know the answer to this. I only know that with youth, decisions are made on the basis of an endless future to recover from unforeseen results. But that is no longer an option.

My husband and I raised our two children in an apartment in my parents' house in the U.S. Like every young mother, I did all I could to protect my little ducklings. The kitchen area was built so as to have a window facing the yard in which they played. The yard was strategically fenced to keep them in and to keep danger out. A metal swing set was cemented to the ground in the middle of the yard so that it would be stable as the children played on it. Downy green grass grew beneath it to cushion any falls they might have. And then one day, as I stood at the kitchen window watching them swing high back and forth in the little controlled space beneath the swings, I heard a God-awful crack and before I could get out the back door, a monstrous branch from the neighbor's old oak tree fell square on top of the swing set, engulfing both children and the entire swing set.

I couldn't breathe. "They're dead," I thought just as the leaves parted and both children ran out from underneath the mammoth branch.

They thought it was great fun.

The tree branch dented the top of the metal bar which had actually prevented it from falling directly on top of the children. All I could think of was, "I cannot protect them. No matter what I do. No matter what decisions I make, I cannot guarantee their safety." Which was absolutely accurate. Though I tried as I watched them enter each stage of life.

"Be careful driving!" I'd yell as they grew to adults but it was more of an obsessive superstition than actual advice. If they left and I'd forgotten to say it? Oh woe is me! The agony until they arrived back safely.

So my youth is behind me now and there are decisions still to be made. But there remains no time at all to correct the results if they happen to be obliterated by falling tree branches. To retire or not to retire: That is the question. But what is the answer?

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