I've been thinking about my parents' mortality recently. It started when I spoke with Aunt R. last weeks. A day or two after she filled me in on the poor health of some of my Dad's older siblings, I had a chance to talk with my Mom about it. Because I live a long way away from my parents, I haven't been kept up to date about the health of some of my relatives. As my Mom recounted the various age differences between my Dad and his brothers and sisters, she noted with some finality that some of them were in their late 70's and showing their age. They weren't likely to last much longer.
It's been a while since anyone in my family has died, and certainly a very long time since anyone of my parents' generation passed on. The last one who passed away who was in parents' age group was my Uncle J. He had leukemia and passed on about 20 years ago. Nearly everyone who was in my grandparents generation has passed since then, and one cousin who was ill from a young age died in his 30's, but generally everyone else has remained healthy and alive.
Hearing my Mom talk about my Aunts and Uncles passing in the next few years suddenly had me thinking of my Dad's mortality. He turned 70 this year and my Mom just turned 64. They're both in good health. Statistically, he'll probably last another 10 years. Still, that puts an end point on his life and that feels suddenly concrete and real to me. With the imagined passing of my Dad, I wondered about my Mom. When I told Fiancee S. about this, she asked if I would feel the need to move near my Mom after my Dad passed. I didn't have a good answer then, and don't now.
None of this was helped by a picture my Dad sent me earlier this week. My parents traveled on Monday to the cemetery where much of my Mom's immediate family was buried. They were making an annual trip to tend to tend graves and plant flowers -- annuals. My Dad took some pictures of the trip. My parents purchased a plot in that cemetery and a headstone a few years ago. My Dad took a picture of that headstone, with the names and birth dates inscribed in it.
The image elicits odd emotions in me. On the one hand, there is a certain odd calm in knowing that my parents are slowly putting their affairs in order. On the other is the loneliness I associate with life without them. I'm not sure how I feel about either emotion.
on 2004-05-21 at 4:26 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond