Sure, I know, that is the oldest statement in the world, and we never did.
I mean “Why”?
These old folks don’t get it.
Sure, they fed us (the worse stuff like vegetables and meatloaf) and put cloths on our backs (though they usually are horrid and don’t fit) and put a roof over our heads (or at least a room) but they also make us go to school and church and family gatherings with a bunch of strangers.
These old folks don’t understand our music or our need to stay out all night or ramble about instead of doing homework or taking out the trash. I mean what do mom and day know. They were from like forever ago back before there were 50 states or color television.
But thinking about it, maybe they knew more than we gave them credit for?
Look there was always heat and clean covers on the bed. By some miracle the dirty cloths were taken out of the closet and made clean and pressed. There was always money in the wallet to be swiped and never punished. They even took a positive spin on teacher conferences when the grades were failing but they took away that you had potential.
So maybe, they did teach you some values and moral fortitude to make your life better than theirs was. But, you didn’t know anything about their lives. It was never brought up and when it was you didn’t want to listen. You didn’t want to know anything about the old times.
And now….. The old times are yours.
Sure this is sort of reminiscing, but the point is to pay attention. When your parents stopped being children and created you, they settled down and got jobs and a mortgage and debt and new cars and cut the grass and join the church and got haircuts and new shoes every year and decorated for Christmas and made a fuss over birthdays with photos in the Sunday best squinting against the sun and joined the club and impressed everyone with all the silver while remembering better times given up for you.
And then what?
How do we repay them for all their sacrifices?
Well, you have moved out and maybe far away, so the day-to-day chatter is gone. You have a busy life with your own family and mortgage and debt and new cars and cutting the grass and getting fashionable hair dos and fancy shoes and celebrating Christmas with friends and raising the cheer during the game with members of your club and impressing clients and friends with your latest purchase without a thought about your parents.
Oh, I know what you are saying; you are being to hard on how we live our lives. For our parents did the same thing, right? They moved away from home and left their parents behind.
As families form from children growing up, the parents must accept separation and that is all part of the plan.
But when mom and dad get old, are you listening.
What do they want? Sure they want good health and enough money to live on and communication with close friends, but are we listening?
My mother used to carry around pieces of tissues in her apron. I never understood what was so important about saving these scraps of paper, but there were drawers full of tissues, some holding treasures, some just balled up and stuff in a spot for later reference. Perhaps, as my brother reminded me, a leftover from the depression where any possession was cherished. I just thought it was an annoying hording trait that I found far to familiar.
So I found a place for her where the grass would be cut and the shoes would be replaced and the food put on the table and the heat came on in the winter and the lights worked and there was enough space for the television and coffee cups and combs and drawers that could be stuffed with tissues then went on with my life.
So as we reflect back on our own lives, we realize all our parents wanted was dignity of life, the respect of others, and just like the rest of us, to have a good time.
Are you listening?
The comfort of familiarity in their surroundings can be changed in an instant. What our parents strive to achieve for so many years can be taken away and never replaced, even though the action seems like the right thing to do.
Like deciding to throw away old family photos of people who never existed in your mind may be easy but our children will delete the ones we post on our websites.
And is it a reason to live as long as possible in a chair in front of a television watching an endless line of commentaries on what you should drive, eat, or wear when you have no interest while awaiting the next meal?
Is this the quality of life?
And at the end of the journey called “life”, do we really want to give all our money and worldly possessions to some corporation that fills us with chemistry and punctures us with fluids and straps us down with tubes as the visual media becomes our baby sitter losing all control over our daily decisions and poop in our pants?
Got to get these torn paper towels out of my pocket.