Last weekend, my Dad picked me and my kids up from the airport. This was the first time I have seen him since he has retired. He looked good, however, I did notice that at age 76 Jim was showing some age. Not so much in his appearance, but his frame looked a little more stooped and his walk was more of an old man shuffle. However, for all I could know Mr. Triathlete was probably breaking in his new Nike running shoes. My Dad would most likely deny any aging and probably give me a good spanking for writing such nonsense–and given the shape he is in I have no doubt he could still pull this off.
I don’t know why but when I notice aging in my parents I immediately become alarmed and my observation of all their movements is heightened in hopes that I might be mistaken. I also become more sympathetic towards them because I see them becoming vulnerable to time. I know they are mortal, but I prefer to push that thought way down into the creases and folds of my puny mind. A parent’s existence just is, like ephemeral air, the steady rocks, and the mighty mountains. Like Hostess Twinkies and cockroaches parents should be indestructible. Maybe after thousands of years, they should cease to exist, but it’s hard to imagine it happening in my lifetime.
For some reason beyond just mere biology, it seems they were chosen to be my parents in this life and I their child and here we are, messing up our lives’ as if this treasured mess was meant to be. No matter how well we know the good and bad of each other’s personalities, we instinctively recognize we both need each other to be “us”. I know I am very fortunate to still have mine in my life and know not everyone gets the opportunity to have their parents live as long mine have. But, I can’t imagine how different life would be without them and how empty it would seem. It makes life seem somehow meaningless if this deep and ineffable bond between a parent and child just ceased to exist.
For this I am grateful to know that what should be a natural extension of this life in order to have it make sense is indeed true and that there can be more to our relationship than just what takes place during our wee slice of time together here on earth.