I dropped off my parents at the airport last week. They were headed back to Peru, their homeland. While they’ve lived nearly half their lives in the U.S., the calling to Peru never seems to end.
My Dad will be 80 this November, and he is more determined than ever to make the long and arduous journey to the Andean village where he was born. Most of his peers and relatives his age have passed away but he keeps going.
He had asked me to save the 3 documents (each about 15-pages) he wrote in Word onto a flash disk. He planned to have them printed off in Peru and then have them distributed to university students and anyone else who would read them.
Two of them were about his denomination’s interpretation of end time events and the third was about the Indigenous people of Peru – their history of oppression and suffering endured under under Spanish domination. But each of these topics are stories in of themselves, which I won’t go into here.
Like my father, I was on a mission – a mission to say good bye while I still could. From external appearances, my parents look healthy – they check their blood pressure almost daily and when the doctor told them to watch their sugar level, my father quit drinking Coke!
I had come back to the U.S. for a short visit. One of my best friends from my college days had invited me to her long-prayed for wedding. I was happy that my friend had finally found someone to share the rest of her life with, but I also wanted to see my parents before they left for Peru.
And I’m glad I came. I got to see my parents more days than I had expected and to see my friend walk down the aisle with her brother is a precious memory I won’t soon forget.
In the past few months, four friends have lost a parent, and it’s heightened my desire to see my parents and make things right with them while I still can. And maybe because I live overseas in Europe and get to see them only once in a few years, the urge to work on our relationship face to face was strong.
And our relationship has been a frail one – often so easily broken and torn to pieces – but the threads of hope have remained and so I came saying to myself – even if they don’t want to see, I want to see them. The future pain of not having tried and regret was not an option.
I brought my oldest daughter with me as part of her 11th birthday present. When I told her about our trip, she was thrilled. Like me, she wanted to see abuelo and abuela and of course her cousins. She began making plans on how she was going to celebrate her birthday with them – the first one in her life. In my heart, I prayed that her high expectations would not be disappointed.
The celebration turned out great. The rain cancelled all the Saturday games and so all the cousins came. Cristina baked her birthday cupcakes with abuela’s help and had so much fun decorating them that she wants to start her cupcake making business.
But the best part of it all for me, was the card my parents gave her with these words penned inside: We’re proud of you Cristina. You’re growing up to be a wonderful, talented girl.
I had to look away to keep the tears from coming. The words touched a deep well in my heart. I was so thankful that they had blessed my daughter – that they were proud of her.
I had long wanted to hear these words from them spoken over my own life and hadn’t. Somehow, having them say it over my daughter was healing for me. I know my Heavenly Father is proud of me and that He thinks I’m wonderful but the desire to have my father say these things is something that has remained.
Our time with them was short (8 days) and simple. We ate meals together and I listened to their stories of how life had changed in Peru and their different adventures during their travels. And in one of those conversations, my dad told me that they got a new roof. I had thought it looked different and since water had been leaking into the house, I was glad they had it done.
“We used the gift you gave us,” he said. What I had given them a few months ago was only a seed amount but they had used it to get a new roof and that blessed me.
The day came for them to leave, and I was to take them to the airport. Had I done all to show them that I loved them, that I was grateful for all that they had done for me and how I proud I was of them? Probably not.
It would be awkward saying it all now when the focus was to get to the airport on time. But there at the departures curbside, I gave each of them a hug and told them I loved them. And in our mother tongue – I said, hiktasim kana – which means till we meet again.