Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Flashback: Slow Down

Let's actually try to do one of these on a Friday. This was originally posted (less a couple of edits) May 1, 2005:

One of the sad things about life to me is seeing my parents get older. There is not really one specific event or moment to which I could point. It is more of a gradual thing, I think. One day I just woke up and saw it, and wondered where in the world all the time had gone.

My sister and Mom went to Nashville shopping this past week. I was talking to my sister on the phone that night and she said something I had thought to myself several times before. "Mom is getting old." I believe my response was something to the effect of, "Yeah, I know."

I know that my parents are not old old. They both turn 56 this year. Then I think about people who have already lost one or both parents, or people who never even knew one or both parents. And I think, "Who am I to be sad?"

But I guess we all go thru different situations at different times. I just see differences in my parents now and from ten and fifteen years ago. And I know that is completely natural and to be expected. But it still makes me a little bit sad.

When I think about it, it makes me miss family vacations of long ago. Mom and Dad taking me to little league baseball games. Playing football or basketball in the backyard. I miss being outside and hearing Mom or Dad call me in for supper. With the whole family sitting around the table. I suppose that anything you look back on fondly, and then realize it will never be again, makes you a little bit sad.

When you are young, you think that things will last forever. Or maybe it is that you do not yet have a complete concept of time. All you are concerned about is today. And everything that is here today you just take for granted will be here tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, and the day after that, and so on.

And when you are young, you do not really have a care in the world to amount to anything. Your parents can seemingly do anything, take care of any problem. They seem invincible. Then one day there's that instant when you realize they can't protect you from everything. They won't always be there. There are some problems they can't fix. Another bit of innocence is stolen by the real world.

You realize that they are only human. As they get older, that only becomes clearer. Perhaps it is not just my parents getting older that makes me sad. Perhaps it is more than that. A longing for a past that always seems better now than it seemed way back then.

So what do you do? What do I do? I guess the obvious answer is to spend more time with the ones we love. Cherish each moment we have together. We never know when someone we care about will be taken away. I know that is so cliched, but I think it is very good advice.

I think back to so many weekend nights when I was young and my parents and I would go out to eat. Many times on the way home, I would sit in the back seat and look out the back window up at the moon and the stars and the clouds.

And I would always be a little sad. I would beg for us to go by and see one of my aunts or uncles. Something, anything, so that we could stay out a little longer. I never wanted the evening to end.

And now, all these years later, I guess I still don't.

"What I'd give to have back all those long afternoons, I wasted being bored..."


  1. You realize your parents aren't perfect when you grow up. I'm glad we don't know that when we are young. It makes it seem like childhood was all pleasant and fun. But just think, one day when we have kids, we'll be perfect too!

  2. This completely reminds me of one of my favorite movies, Garden State.

    "You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone... You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for you kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

    Excellent post.

  3. The image I have of my parents is ageless and it always shocks me when I see pictures of them with greyer hair or more wrinkles.

    It truly hit me that my folks are getting older (especially my dad who is 11 years older than my mom) when we went to the movies during my last visit home. I told the booth attendent that I wanted 3 adult tickets, and my dad quickly stepped up and said, "No. 2 adults and 1 senior." It hadn't even occured to me that my dad was old enough to qualify for senior citizen status, but he did.

    Wait until you have to have the "death" talk with your folks. That'll be really hard. Of course, you have a sister to help you out with stuff. I am, essentially, an only child (my sister is out of the picture even though she's still alive) so I have to handle it all on my own.

  4. I once went a year without seeing my parents and I remember the first time I saw them after all that time, the thing that struck me was how much older they looked. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I thought a lot of the things that you mention in this post. My dad was sick recently and it was the first time that I really, truly thought about their mortality. Obviously, I was aware of it before but my parents' presence in my life is just something I've always taken for granted. I guess doing otherwise is just too impossible to bear, you know?

    Great post.

  5. Groovy: Good point. They are imperfect. It always seemed they knew just what they were doing. But looking back, I guess most of the time they were learning as they went along.

    OCG: "A group of people who miss the same imaginary place." I especially like that line.

    Also was thinking while re-reading this post about the cycle. And how one day I'll (hopefully) start a family and have a home for them to grow up in, visit, and remember fondly.

    Xinh: It really slips up on you. I was just mentioning to someone the other day how thankful I was to have my sister to lean on and share some of the responsibility.

    Lizzie: It's not something we like to think about. Have been trying to spend more time with my parents lately.

    Thank you.

  6. This post makes me very melancholy. It's an existential thing that happens probably to everyone. I'll just leave it at that before I start bawling! Nice post!

  7. You are a great writer!!! Great post.

  8. Good post Bone. I agree, I think when I was younger, I thought that my mom was invincible, strong, ageless and never wrong. Well, it was quite a shocker when I realized that she was human and now I'm beginning to see that she too, is growing old and is not ageless. I think that bothers me more than when I realized she was imperfect. I sometimes think ahead and wonder what trials age will force my mom (as well as me, when I get old) to face and how it will affect the family. Rather depressing thoughts. When I get impatient with my mom, I will think that she won't be around forever and it puts things in perspective.

    Again, good post.

  9. Carnealian: Sorry to make you melancholy. Thursday, you propose to me. Friday, I make you sad... I don't know what that means.

    Jen C: Wow. Thank you very much.

    Chickadee: I guess it's something most everyone thinks about and goes thru.

    It just seems like for ten years I never really noticed my parents aging. It's so gradual when you see someone often. But then one day it just hit me.

  10. I completely relate to this. I've definitely been feeling this way lately, especially about my dad. He's 62, and now he's getting chemotherapy, and he just looks so much older and so more tired. It makes me sad. You're right, all we can do is cherish the time we have.

    I also have to say that I enjoy your writing style so much. In fact, I think I am in love with your writing style. It reminds me a lot of the way I write, actually - very candid and free, yet poetic. Keep it up, you've got a great talent.

  11. I am only now beginning to see the age in my parents. My mom was only 19 when I was born and I'm not even the oldest. But she always had that silver hair. She started to grey in high school. I started in middle school, but I have great chemical friends that hide my secret. My daughter even has a few. My relationship with my mom is changing more now because I think she realizes that she is getting older and I no longer "need" mothering. I think I realize her age more because my stepdad is getting older, shrinking, losing teeth, dealing with arthritis. My mom's mom is 80, and I think she is having the "wow" moment right now. I never really fit in my home, so I never got to really miss that aspect of the good ol' days. I do have moments though that I realize that I'm the same age as my mom was when she made this decision or that that shaped our lives.

  12. Lauren: It's something most all of us can relate to.

    Thank you for the compliment :-)

    Dorothy: I think that a lot. Like when my parents were my age, I was 10 years old and my sister was 3. Here I am at that age with no kids, far as I know.

  13. It's so funny how our definitions of "Old" change as we get older. I remember as a little kid thinking my parents were old because they were in their 30's! But after that they didn't seem old to me any more. I guess because my parents are relatively young compaired to everyone else's that I know. (They're only 20 years older than me) while my DH's mom is much older and his dad has already passed away.

    My dad looks old (a whole lot like his mom...ewe!) and my mom acts old because she's got medical problems now. My MIL who is older, looks better than them both even with a knee replacement!

    When I read how old your parents are I was thinking..."That's not old."

  14. I totally know what you mean. It is heavier on my mind every time I go home. They are so precious. And let's admit it, as long as they are around, we are still "kids." I love it. I love them. Great tribute.

  15. Renee: It's not old. Just older. And the fact that I've been noticing it lately.

    Tenacious T: Thanks. My world would just be a different, much lonelier place without them.