The Parent Imperfect is back into another traveling season, having just completed a four-day work trip to Washington, DC. He spent most of that time confined a charming little boutique hotel in Georgetown, leaving the parenting and the shuttling to Ms. Liz. Travel costs.
He separated himself from the meetings for one evening to share an appetizer and dessert with Jane, the oldest of his three nieces and Kathy, Jane’s daughter. Jane and the PI had not spoken together in this way for years, and it was his very first real conversation with Kathy. Few would mistake the PI’s ties to his extended family as close-knit.
Since cancer took her husband this past summer, Jane has been trying to adjust to single parenting two teenagers. One suffocating day in August, Jane and Kathy left Washington with Jane’s son, Jacob, as he headed to Florida to begin his freshman year in college. The ailing father, Jon, had insisted that Jake’s school plans go forward without interruption, and he probably took comfort in the granting of his wish. Before they could even get Jacob’s bags unpacked, Jane’s cellphone tingled with the news of Jon’s passing.
Barely two months later, she sat next to the PI at the trendy Dish, eating mussels and drinking a glass of wine she recognized. Jane is back to work, cooking supper for two instead of four, and trying to make each day follow the previous one.
As if the tectonic shifts in family life had not been enough, the company where Jane works had been sold while she was on family leave, making for a challenging return to her senior management role there. Why would anything be easy? And then there was everyday life, like the apparent leak in the roof that had kept her awake during the previous evening’s downpour.
Not all in Jane’s life is grief and adjustment. She laughed easily as she reported that she and Kathy had attended the Stewart-Colbert rally on the Mall, and had taken some sort of hope from it. Jane knows the PI as the somewhat eccentric activist of the family who would welcome that news. Where has he gone?
Too quickly, it was time to pay the bill and walk Jane and Kathy back to their car at the corner of Pennsylvania and 26th. The PI, hoping to offer Jane some support, had probably gotten more than he gave by moving a bit closer to two family members whose story helps put imperfect parenthood in needed perspective.