I just received word yesterday from my mother that one of my aunts passed away a few days ago. Apparently, it was very sudden and unexpected, and her funeral will be later this week. While this is, of course, very sad news, especially for my uncle (my father’s brother), I am not too affected by her death directly. Growing up, we were not really close with my father’s family; they lived 8 or 9 hours away, while most of my mother’s family was 2 hours away, tops. Plus, my parent’s had the younger kids in both of their families. Jen and Bill are the youngest first generation children on both sides of the family. In fact, I have a second cousin who is right around Bill’s age. Needless to say, most of my cousins were long gone anytime we would visit.
Anyway, the reason why this has made me pause is, as my mother said in her e-mail, they are now the oldest generation in our respective families. Granted, my father is the youngest of three sons, and my mother is third of four in her family, but they are both in their sixties. When someone who is pretty close to their age dies suddenly like this, it just makes it hit a little closer to home. It is hard to know when I will recieve that phone call from someone saying that Mom or Dad is sick, especially because of the recent health scares they have both had; nothing serious, but still.
Having older parents while growing up (my parents were often 10-15 years older then most of my classmates’ parents), I always had a feeling that they would get old before we really even noticed it. Maybe they seem a bit younger to me because Bill still lives at home, or because they are both still working. But the fact of the matter is that they are getting older. And while I live accross the country from them, I am still just a plane flight away from being there if anything were to happen.
Growing up, I always had visions of sharing my children with them, or having their home be a place for family gatherings. Unfortunately, as we kids grew older and moved away, this has not been the case. We have plans to take them on their Alaskan Cruise for their 50th Anniversary in four years, but I often wonder if they will be able to go if we did do something like this. It may only be four years away, but that is a long time. A lot can happen in those four years. Guess I should really start working on those grandkids! Maybe a new pick-up line?
Bottom line, I love my parents. I did not move away to get away from them, but I often regret that I am so far away sometimes, if only because I feel out of the loop sometimes. I know they probably won’t live long enough to see my children’s children (another 25-30 years!), but I want them to be there to meet my children. I don’t want the only knowledge of their grandparents to be pictures in an album or memories in a book. All four of my grandparents died while I was young, but I still have very strong memories of what it was like to visit them. I would like to share my mother’s joy and my father’s strength with them before it is too late.
Call your parents today. I know I am going to.