What My Parents Gave Me

What my parents gave me was a respect for those over the age of middle aged. Aged, a word which brings my mind to cheese, and the reality where the longer the cheese wheel breathes, the more respected it becomes. We don’t think like that here, not about each other. We are too busy determining when each clarifying label can be glued to our chest like a red letter, not a badge of courage. Elder means so much in terms of dignity and authority, but put a modifying “ly” at the end and you’ve spelled a disease, you’ve pointed toward the slow crawl toward death, and we fear it. Why are we so afraid. The other side of death is dark and unknown. If there is a hell, we would like to avoid it. If there is nothing, well we despise it. All life’s accomplishments stripped away. Naked we come, and so we shall leave this world. Each moment that passes takes us all one moment closer. My parents taught me not to fear death. That’s why they did not fear the aged ones, but loved them with a kind strength. They taught me that there was much to receive in a nursing home and many to love. My parents let me dance and skip around and hide and blush. They taught me to sing out my love to the white haired dignified and respected ones. They taught me that there was something after death, or rather Someone. And that Someone would be waiting for me someplace. And maybe if we were so blessed, all the beautiful white haired aged ones we had just met would be there too. When I was young enough to miss the sadness on their faces, I thought it was nice to sing Christmas songs in my red dress white tights and black patten-leather shoes. It was nice. Nice not to fear. Nice not to drown in misplaced guilt when I see someone else Yaya mourning their past life, alone.
I will never forget those lovely trips to the nursing home. I later learned my maternal grandfather was placed in one for a short time at the very end of his life. Although they visited him, they still felt something was lost in the move. But even in this my parents taught me one important thing. They taught me to remember. And they taught me to act on those remembrances. What kind of action? They taught me to sing.

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