Is there a magic cutoff period when  
Offspring become  accountable for their own
Actions?  Is there a  wonderful moment when
Parents can become  detached spectators in
The lives of their  children and shrug, 'It's
Their life,' and feel  nothing?

  When  I was in my twenties, I stood in  a hospital
Corridor waiting for  doctors to put a few
Stitches in my daughter's  head.  I asked, 'When do
You stop worrying?'   The nurse said,
'When they get out of the  accident stage.'  My
Dad just smiled faintly  and said nothing.

When I was in my thirties, I sat on a  little
Chair in a classroom and  heard how one of my
Children talked  incessantly, disrupted the class,
And was headed for a  career making
License plates.   As if to read my mind, a teacher
Said, 'Don't worry, they  all go through
This stage and then you can  sit back, relax and
Enjoy them.'  My dad  just smiled
Faintly and said  nothing.


When I was in my forties, I spent a  lifetime
Waiting for the phone to  ring, the cars to come
Home, the front door to  open.  A friend said,
'They're trying to find  themselves.  Don't worry,
In a few years, you can  stop worrying.  They'll be
Adults.'  My dad just  smiled faintly
And said  nothing.

By the time I was 50, I was sick &  tired of being
Vulnerable.  I was  still worrying over my
Children, but there was a  new wrinkle.  There
Was nothing I could do  about it.  My
Dad just smiled faintly  and said nothing.  I
Continued to anguish over  their failures, be
Tormented by their  frustrations and absorbed in
Their  disappointments.


My friends said that when  my kids got married I
Could  stop worrying and lead my own
Life.  I wanted to  believe that, but I was
Haunted by my dad's warm  smile and his
Occasional, 'You look  pale.  Are you all right?  
Call me the minute you get  home.  Are
You depressed about  something?'

  Can  it be that parents are sentenced to a  
Lifetime of worry?   Is concern for one another
Handed down like a torch  to blaze the trail of
Human frailties and the  fears of the
Unknown?  Is concern  a curse or is it a virtue
That elevates us to the  highest form of life?

  One  of my children became quite irritable  
Recently, saying to me,  'Where were you?  I've been
Calling for 3 days, and no  one answered I was worried.'

I smiled a warm smile.   
The torch has been  passed.


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