Los Angeles has many nicknames – the City of Angels, El Lay, the Big Orange. The nickname for Los Angeles that was most appropriate for our mother’s period of living there was La-La Land: a place that is fun and not serious, a carnival of no responsibility, a place where people often go to “start over” or “find themselves.” And maybe even a place where people become quite out of touch with reality.
Mother loved her life in Los Angeles. She was finally free of any responsibilities except to herself. She could pretend she had spent a long life raising her children and was now reaping the well-deserved rewards for her toils and trouble. She could tell herself what an awesome job she had done but truth be told, it was our dad who was our everything. He was our provider, our protector, our role model and the one constant in our lives.
When we were in Chicago, despite working full time and going to school, Dad read the classics to us, took us on his bicycle exploring, educated us in ways that helped us want to read and think. Most of all he loved us. Our dad gave us the greatest gift of all, the gift of knowing how important we were. He also gave us the confidence to believe we could do anything.
As Mother enjoyed her independence away from us, reveling in her new-found freedom in La-La Land, our dad reminded us of the unbreakable bond we had forged as a family. They say all a child needs is one important adult in their lives to count on and they will be okay. How lucky we were to have this man who we knew loved us unconditionally and would never abandon us.