Friends and books | Two Decades of Kids and Counting | Sally Torbey | Palo Alto Online |

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By Sally Torbey

Friends and books

Uploaded: Dec 15, 2015

Our book club has been meeting regularly for over two decades and we were together last night to share holiday cheer. We met when our eldest children, who are now in their mid-twenties, were preschoolers. What started as a weekly daytime playgroup evolved into an evening monthly book chat. Since our first gathering, twenty-two siblings have been born, the youngest just became a teenager. Soon only two of us will still have children at home. Two members moved away, one divorced, but then moved back. One member passed away.

The early years we talked about our kids: our struggles with sleep, separation, and limit setting. We compared notes on school issues, homework, sports teams, family vacations, and the college search. Some of us rejoined the work force or devoted more hours to volunteer work as the kids grew. Now the conversation still centers on our kids, but it is focused on their studies, careers, and their significant others. We await their visits with much anticipation, and remarkably, all thirty of our kids will be home for the holidays.

Many of us have lost parents and in-laws, but most of us have at least one parent or in-law whose health challenges challenge us. Recently, we spend as much time discussing them as we do our children and spouses. Our desire to keep the older generation safe and healthy, and with us forever, is often at odds with their need to maintain their independence and autonomy, despite illness, cognitive impairment and frailty. We wonder how we can avoid these conflicts, and not burden our children with our future choices, when the time comes that it is our own health challenges that are the evening’s topic.

We also read and discussed a lot of books over the years. But for me, none of the books have been as memorable as the stories of my friends’ lives.