How in the world did my parents get to be old?
Well, OK, they’re not THAT old (Dad turns 65 in October), but you have to understand that my folks have always been “young” to me. That’s what happens when your mother gained that status at a very young age. At family gatherings, they were always the youngest in their generation (they were both “babies” of their respective families).
But, at a recent family gathering, I took a good, long look at them. They no longer looked so much younger than everyone else. Dad will soon be 65, and is getting around a little slower. Mom has had a series of illnesses and injuries that are starting to seem more than just coincidence.
You guys know, my “feeling” side is more dominant than my “thinking” side. For the first time in my life, I am starting to “feel” my parents’ mortality.
In fact, the other day, I had one of those unbidden thoughts that rips your heart out; the kind you curse your subconscious for presenting it to you, even if only for a brief moment.
For a split second, I could imagine my father on his deathbed.
I immediately squashed the thought, but the damage was done – my heart had sunk to my shoes. I was literally shaking.
I realized in that terrifying moment, maybe for the first time, that I love my parents more than I might be able to express. And, in that light, I also realized that I have not been a very good son. I had pushed them to the margins of my life as I had built my own. I had relegated them to a phone call – maybe every other week. If I am totally honest with myself, I know that my life has become so busy, so self-involved, that they have become an afterthought.
That sucks. They deserve better. From now on, I WILL do better. If Tim McGraw will pardon the plagiarism – I intend to live life as if my parents were dying.
I will do right by them, I will give earnest effort to earning the right to one day be able to walk them down that long, lonely road with grief, but not regret. I want to have the moral authority to one day be able to tell the story of their lives.
Because who would we want to tell the story of our lives, but our children?
To be continued…