There is that moment, the time when you have that catch in your throat, the fleeting realization that your parents are…old. Not when you were a kid and you thought 30 was old, but as an adult when you realize that the sun has begun to set. It creeps up on you, when you slow down after walking a couple blocks so they can catch their breath, when they tell you the same story again, when you spend an hour talking about who of their friends and neighbors have died. There always seems to be that one moment when you see that, Wow… my folks are old.
I have a strange relationship with my parents. It involves all those new-age psychological terms I love to hate; an enabler father, a narcissistic mother, I grew up a guilt-driven pleaser. Yes, they have those issues because of their crappy upbringing, but god dammit I had a shitty upbringing and I didn’t inflict it on anyone else, I was selfless enough to make sure that all that was fucked up was me! I’m a goddamn saint!! ;)
I have resolved myself to the fact that I will feel nothing when my folks die. What is really bizarre is they are so self-absorbed I don’t think they have any idea that I feel that way. Yet, there are still duties and primitive emotional reactions that I can’t move beyond. I feel bad if I don’t call, and yet worse after I do.
I guess that what it really comes down to is that seeing your parents as mortal, regardless of your relationship with them, strikes one of those nerves. One that makes you feel sad about what could have, should have been.
My brother and I didn’t used to talk that much. When we started talking more we realized that we both felt the same way about our parents. For the longest time I thought I was an awful person for feeling that way, but when I found out that he did, too, I realized that I WAS an awful person, but at least I wasn’t alone.