AUTHOR: Marty, a.k.a. canape TITLE: Absent DATE: 8/27/2007 11:59:00 AM ----- BODY:
This week, I am substitute teaching a high school orchestra class. It's really a strings class, I suppose, as it only has 13 students in it.

The reason I'm subbing is because Boo's daddy is very sick, and she has gone to be with her family. Boo and I have many things in common, some of which aren't the happiest things. Our parents' health is one of those things.

I think though, that we get each other so well because the issues of caring of aging parents, or parents with health problems, is not an issue that many people our age deal with. My mother and father were in their 50's when they had to deal with the really serious health issues of their parents.

The other thing Boo and I have in common is that we are both the absent children. Boo's older sister lives near their parents several hundred miles from here. My older brother lives near my parents several hundred miles from here.

It is hard to be the absent child.

I could tell you how much harder it is to be the present child and have the responsibility for day to day needs, emergencies, and anything else that has to be taken care of, but you probably already assume that. You would be right in your assumption.

The hard part about being the absent child is coming into decision making without all the information. Hearing the words, "You don't know, because you aren't here" stings. It stings because in a way, it is true. We aren't there, and we don't know as much. And we feel guilty.

But we do care as much as we did before. Boo dropped everything and went on the very day it became clear that she needed to be present, not just available by phone. And she will stay. Because deep down, she does know her daddy. She may not know every detail of every conversation with the doctors. She may not know his daily medicine routine. She may not know the levels of his latest blood work.

She knows him.

That is the blessing of being the absent child. We have a much easier time holding close to the actual person inside the trappings of a body and mind that are staging a coup.

I think that is a blessing to Boo and to her daddy too.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Maddie DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 1:35:00 PM EDT I'm an absent child, too. Good and bad, I suppose. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous slouchy DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 3:32:00 PM EDT Me too, I'm the absent child. I think my brother hates me for it.

(BTW, Ben's in the process of deciding on an instrument (they all have to pick one in fourth grade). He's leaning towards the clarinet. Any thoughts, pro and/or con?) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lisa DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 3:58:00 PM EDT I hope Boo and her daddy are able to spend some happy time together in spite of the fact that (sounds like) he's not doing so well. SOrry to hear that. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Oh, The Joys DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 4:18:00 PM EDT I will keep her in my thoughts. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Ally DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 4:40:00 PM EDT This is a really interesting contrast-- the present child's knowing the daily medication schedule and latest blood lab report, but the absent child knowing the person. I would think it would be easy to lose track of the person if you'd lived close and had to deal with all of the other details. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Kathy DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 6:16:00 PM EDT Hi, I followed you from Karaoke Diva. As an only child, I know I have no choice but to be the present child. My parents are still pretty young, but I watched my mom take care of both her parents (and I did too while she worked, almost to the point of sacrificing college). Her brother, though still living close, was totally absolved of that responsibility. There's still a lot of jealousy between them. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Liz DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 8:47:00 PM EDT For a long time, I was the present child. The one who lived closest to Mom and was there for it all--I got to have dinner and coffee or shop for pumpkins or whatever.
Then my mom up and moved to Arizona. And so did my brother. So now, I'm the absent child. And it's hard, especially with a baby boy who's growing so fast. I want Henry to remember who his Grandma Lady is, I want her to be around as much as his other Grandma.
Anyhoo: enjoy the orchestra class. And I hope that Boo and her daddy have some time together. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Redneck Mommy DATE:Monday, August 27, 2007 at 9:28:00 PM EDT I'm an absent child too.

My parents live five miles down the road. They want nothing to do with me. My siblings who live far away from them have more contact than I do.

It kills me.

I'll keep Boo and her daddy in my thoughts. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Bubblewench DATE:Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 11:08:00 AM EDT I was the absent child for many many years. That is a big reason I moved back to PA from OR. While I miss OR every single moment of every day, I am glad to be here, because I do have aging parents and my brothers and I have to deal with the issues. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Jenn DATE:Tuesday, August 28, 2007 at 11:30:00 AM EDT Absent can also happen if you're right down the road.

It's all in the heart, where the distance is measured.

I'm keeping her in my thoughts and prayers. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous sudiegirl DATE:Wednesday, August 29, 2007 at 11:49:00 AM EDT Same sister gets jealous, but I've gradually learned to live with it. ----- --------