I emailed my cousin Gerry the other day with the following question:
“Do you ever think about how you might not have understood your parents’ aging until now?”
I found his response insightful and asked if I could quote him, especially if I called him “wise”. So here it is—food for thought from my wise, handsome, 76- year-old cousin.
“Right up to the day my father died I thought of my parents as ageless and eternal. After all, they were my parents. And that they were growing old and ever closer to death, while obvious, did not ever really register. The sadness, the fear, the retrospection and satisfaction, the overall uncertainty of their last years was less than a mystery to me. It simply passed me by without notice.”
Gerry went on to say that on a visit to his parents just months before his father died, they talked about financial matters, caring for his mother, etc. In the only way he knew how, his dad was saying good-bye.
“How I wish we had all been able to share a longer and deeper valedictory, talking of love and joy, disappointment and hope, offering one another something that at the time I could not name nor even recognize as missing.”
And in his email giving me permission to quote him, he added:
“What we wouldn't give to have them back even for a short while to address the unfinished expression of our love for our imperfect parents.”