A Tender Spring, by Kelli Grace Kurtz

A Tender Spring, by Kelli Grace Kurtz

In the Spring of 1982 I graduated from San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, California. Months earlier I had arranged with my Uncle Ted and Aunt Paulette that, upon my graduating from High School, I would move in with them in Azusa, California. So, less than two weeks after graduating I packed up all my worldly belongings, grabbed a ride on a southbound Greyhound bus and never looked back. It was the best (emotionally, spiritually, physically, intellectually) decision I have ever had the nerve to make. I am forever grateful to my Aunt and Uncle for taking the risk of having me live with them. From that condominium in Azusa, California I sprang forward and gained clarity, a college and a graduate school education, maturity, a husband, four children, two grandchildren, a herd of various dogs, cats, gold fish, etc. No need to go into details on the whys and wherefores. It was a blessed move and I have never had the need to question or second guess leaving my family home.

It is now nearly the Spring of 2013, 31 years later. My own children have left home-under very different circumstances, mind you. And while I know that it is a good and right thing that they move into adulthood with all strength and courage, I miss them-terribly so as Easter draws near and I am faced with the reality that only one will be home for only a short visit this Easter. I will be fine. I am leaning into my new role as advisor and not director with as much dignity as I can muster. And I am exceedingly proud of each of them. I worry about how they will make ends meet and how they are finding their way. I love to hear about their latest adventures and am so deeply moved when they *want* to check in with me. Even more so when they think I might have some insight that could be of use to them, or even more so again when they just need/want my heart and my ear. It moves me to tears, I tell you.

I am so moved in part because it has never been, nor ever will be so for me. Checking in with family back in my hometown is a chore. I do so out of obligation and because I strive to be a better person than circumstances under which I grew up would justify I could be. So each time I get a call or a text or an email or a blessed face-to-face visit from one of my children a little bit of my childhood self is healed and restored. And my adulthood self is gladdened and strengthened. This is who I want to be: someone my children want to check in with and someone who can celebrate their children’s differentiated selves and their children’s own adulthood even while looking for ways to stay connected.

I think back on my Grandma Lucy’s absolute joy in having her three daughters and sons-in law, four grandsons and her one (oh so “unique”) granddaughter “home” for Easter Sunday and the tear in her eye when we all left for our own homes at the end of the day, and I so understand in a way and a depth I never had before. This is how it is when one loves with full heart, mind, body and soul- it hurts and it strengthens, it binds and it loosens. And it is always good. I have no doubt there will be (hopefully many, many) times and events ahead of us when we will all be gathered together. But right now, it is a tender Spring for me. It is no shame to say I am sad as long as I stay aware of the long view, of my own journey and of theirs. May that long view always be a source of peace and serenity.

In the meantime, I am also not afraid to say I truly enjoy the kitchen being as clean in the morning as I left it the night before, it is a wonderful thing to have *only* 3 or 4 loads of laundry a week, and a most welcomed experience to have the house and TV to myself in the evenings (except, of course for What’s His Name and the Herd).

All in all, I am a blessed woman.

Kelli Grace Kurtz is my mom, a priest, a pellegrino, a ballerina, and one heck of a role model. She warmly opens her home to any of her children when we need a landing pad, and she is always a phone call away. Not only is she my favorite mom, but she’s also my only mom, and I think that makes me pretty lucky.

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