The Wisdom of Our Grown Children
Dressing Up

Your Parents' Shoes

(Please be aware that 80-something is now distributed by Follow It.  It may look a bit different, but it’s still me.)

Years ago, when my father was suffering from terminal lung cancer, Peter and I flew to Florida with Seth to visit him.  I am embarrassed to report that the most vivid memory I have of that visit was how frightened our toddler was by his grandfather’s dry hacking cough.

As a young adult, I am sure that I was sympathetic to my parents’ challenges.  I’d be aware of the things that they were struggling with, but I usually could put them on the back burner. But I am also sure that they never outweighed my concern with myself.  I don’t think a younger generation can know what it’s like to be old.

I heard the great trumpeter Wynton Marsalis describe a disagreement he had with a very young man.  His memorable words:

“I’ve been your age; you’ve never been mine.”


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Monica James

That is a eye opening statement and so true......


Love the last line - very appropriate too.

Becky in California

Love this post and love this quote. Like you, I had to deal with losing a parent (actually both my parents) when I was a young mom. It's quite an emotional tug-of-war, simultaneously caring for a parent and a little one. You certainly shouldn't feel embarrassed about having felt protective of your little one.

My dad's last words to me were, "It goes by so fast." My mom had a brain tumor, and when I was caring for her, I tried to encourage her to tell me more about her life and her feelings. She just said, "You know how much I love you, and I know how much you love me, and what more is there?" The profundity of that still makes me cry, and a day doesn't go by that I don't dream about her and wish she was still here.

You know, that quote kind of works in the reverse, too. I've now been the ages that my parents were when they died; they never got to be the age I am now, so it's kind of uncharted territory. Thanks for being here to show me how it's done. : ) I appreciate you so much.


That is so true about the young; who are self-absorbed (as I was). Your words 'I don’t think a younger generation can know what it’s like to be old' have got me thinking, & I will reflect further on them as I do my new writing about ageing.

PS With your new web hosting I can no longer read your posts in my email inbox. I have to bring up a link. I miss the instant read!


Marsalis’s comment hits it right on the bull’s eye.
And I remember my mother making a comment to me when she was in her 80’s about it being just as well that people in younger generations don’t know how it is to be old.


Your new Blog distributor may not be working as you want it. I did not receive email notice of a new posting as I always did in the past. I only discovered a new posting by clicking directly on the blog website.


I try, so hard, to remember what I thought when I was younger and dealing with someone my current age. I thought 70 was old, and next year I celebrate that milestone. It's hard not to share stories of long-ago, but I remember that those stories seemed to have no relevance to me when I was young, just an old person's ramblings. I would be kind and listen but not put much stock in what happened so long ago. Now I try to laugh off the stories I sometimes start to tell and realize that there is little frame of reference for the listener.

The comments to this entry are closed.