Yesterday marked the fourth anniversary of my mother’s passing, which of course set me thinking of parents and what a wonderful thing it is if you still have, at least one. I loss my dad when he turned forty-one, so for many, many years it had just been my mother and I. She said she would never remarry, and she did hold true to that vow. Parents – they are to us as breath is to life. When we think of them, why do we automatically remember them younger? Is it a more pleasant memory or is that just human nature? Do we enjoy looking at that picture from the child’s point of view, because we like reminiscing about the nurturing parent?
I know that some of you reading this now may be having some challenges, but on the other side of whatever it is you’re going through, you will still have the memories. Therefore, cherish the good ones. Isn’t it funny, and we all know this – you’re enjoying your mother and father; life is breezing along, then out of nowhere, the roles have to switch. I’m sure, however, we think we were never as much of a problem to them as a youngster, as they are to us as a senior. But, we don’t know that. Can you recall everything you did in your youth? You certainly don’t know how good or not so good you were as an infant. You’re only knowledgeable from what you were told.
My mother-in-law lived to the rich age of ninety-two and for the most part her health proved fairly good until maybe her eightieth year. Meaning, there were many things she could still do on her own, and her seven children weren’t really required to do much, up until that point, except be there. If you think about it, maybe it’s divvied up by how good or bad you were. I mean, if you were a great baby and a halfway decent teenager, then your job in caring for them won’t be as bad. I don’t know – that’s a stupid analogy isn’t it? Regardless, my mother always said, “Once an adult, twice a child;” think about that for a minute or two, because it’s so true. Nevertheless, you still take care of their needs. A parent/child relationship is by far the number one factor on the social scale. In fact, that connection affects every other bond you will ever have. Every single issue a person faces and/or reacts to gets traced back to that beginning, and even if the early days weren’t a pleasant recollection, once the parent is gone one has to live and respond – either good or bad – to that the remainder of their years.
I said all of that to say, love, enjoy, and spend lots of time with your folks. Because, even if they were dysfunctional, they always loved you – even through the dysfunction. And, once they’re gone, that’s it. As my mother reached a certain age, I don’t recall the number, but I gave up correcting her or arguing with her. Whatever ludicrous thing she came up with at any particular moment, I would simply smile and listen or depending on what distorted idea she had that day, I’d just respond with interest and allow her to explain. I say distorted because that generation thought on a completely different level than us, the same as we appear, I’m certain, to our children. So make today, if you can, a kind of “Parent’s Day.” Make the long overdue telephone call, just to say “I love you” or send that bouquet of flowers to say you’re thinking of them. I want to recall every conversation, every hug, every kiss, every smile, every tear, because for me that’s all I have left.
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