When my son was four years old he came down with the chicken pox. It was winter time, he was quarantined at home (which meant I was quarantined at home.) It was not a lot of fun. But worst of all I wanted my mother, and she was gone. I wanted to ask her how she dealt with my bout of the chicken pox, how best to apply to calamine lotion. But she had passed away a few months before and I was on my own. Oh, I talked to a friend who had live thru her two daughter’s almost simultaneous pox-a-rama, I talked to my pediatrician. But it wasn’t the same.
Recently, when I read the pages of my Facebook, or those of my local newspaper I learn that the parents of my childhood friends, my peers and co-workers are dealing with serious health issues, and yes passing away. If you’re a Disney character you sing “The Circle of Life.” If you’re a real person you pause and remember. You remember the room mother who made and delivered the cupcakes for the Valentine’s Day party. The father who drove a carload of girls to the roller rink for the twin’s birthday party. The store owner, the teacher, the bane of your best friend’s existence, and the person smiling and tearing up at the same friend’s wedding.
I was a young mother when I lost my parents with in two years of each other. It was not how I wanted to lead the group. I still had questions I wanted to ask, advice I wanted to ponder. My son confessed recently he barely has any memory of my dad with whom he had so much fun at Disney World at age 5, and that he does not remember at all my mother who died when he was four. My daughter never met either of my parents. I’m only happy that she had a sweet, close relationship with my mother-in-law. Twelve year olds tend to remember things. Things like famous deviled eggs, or funny stories about your dad’s older brother.
I once read a quote by a sociologist that when one loses a parent the loss is compounded by the feeling that a barrier between our self and mortality is breached. This may be true. But I also remember a favorite client telling me something when I offered my sympathy for the loss of her mother. She herself was a grandmother already and at least 20 years older than I. “I’m just kind of mad, I want my mom back,” she said.
This is what I know about losing your parent. You will look at old pictures of them from when you were young, and you will be struck by how young they look. You will be unable to replicate the meatloaf/lemon meringue pie they made. You will wish your dad was coming over to help fix the car or watch the game. And if any of these things are true for you then you will have been very blessed in deed.
I read an interesting quote a while back. I noted it, and it fits this topic as well as any other. “We’re all just walking each other home.” It’s good to know that the first people to hold our hands are part of the memories of not only us but often of the people we played, laughed, and grew up with. I’m just say’n.