It’s inevitable. If nature goes the way it’s supposed to, you’re going to out live your parents.
What a horrible truth.
When you’re young, you’re like a wild animal, having no concept of mortality. It’s one of the reasons that being a child is so wonderful. You look at your parents and can’t picture a day without them because you don’t know any better.
But then you get older and suddenly your parents are going grey. The 20/20 vision that you remember them having, now needs to be aided with glasses, bifocals and even trifocals. Your parents are aging and their mortality is something that you have to face.
I lost my father over five years ago. But with my father, I never got the chance to watch him slowly age in front of me. I never got to watch him retire and bum around the house, if he ever was going to do that. I never really got the chance to come to a slow realization that he wasn’t going to be around forever. I went out to dinner with him, said I loved him in the parking lot as we were leaving and that was the last time I ever saw him alive.
I got a phone call a few days later that he had suffered a severe head injury from falling off a ladder and was at Fletcher Allen.
He didn’t live past 48 hours of that phone call.
One thing you should know, my dad and I were best friends. We had a very unusual bond that involved the same sense of humor, interests and personality. Whenever we got together it was always a competition to see who could make the other one laugh harder. Now the competitions were over and it was the hardest thing I would ever have to go through, coming to terms with that, I still wonder if I really have.
Now I’m a mother. I have a son and a daughter on the way. My dad never got to meet his grandson or his granddaughter. There are so many days when I get mad about it. I get mad at the situation, the universe and yes, even him. I feel cheated and I feel my children were cheated out of their grandfather. I sit and think about what he would be doing with my son, what things he would be teaching him if he were here. And you know what? It’s just not fair that he’s not here to hug them or tell them that he loves them. But then I remember, my father is in me and I can give the gift of him to my children through pictures, stories and just being me.
We have a huge poster of the Marx Brothers up in our little dining area of our apartment and my father’s Groucho statue’s in a place of honor in our living room. His pictures are all over the walls and we play Bob Dylan and the Beatles constantly. I say the same lines from movies that he said and tell the same stale jokes. It’s not the same as having him here. It will never be. But this is something that every parent has to know how to do, to make their parents live again for their children.