I wanted to take brief respite from the somewhat poor attempt at humor that these posts are generally filled with and take time to discuss something that as parents we may not necessarily think about that often, we are children as well. The first half of this calendar year I have seen people I grew up with, friends of mine from back in the day, lose a parent, two in the past 7 days and my heart breaks for them. None of these friends of mine and I communicate on a daily basis anymore, not because of any arguments or things of that nature, just life. Life has a tendency of taking your plans and your daily routines and shaking them up from time to time. Growing up with the Smiths and Taylors when they moved away there was no Facebook, Instagram, email or cell phones to keep in touch with. As kids we were never in the house to use them anyway, we were out making new friends to fill a void that was left by the old ones who had moved on in their new town or neighborhood as well.
Growing up my father worked long hours and is not really into sports that much so having a friend whose father was around to bring his blue bag of hard balls and drill line drives or shag pop ups with was golden. Not to mention these kids had every new video game system when it came out so on a rainy day, playing frogger or pitfall or sonic the hedgehog was a God send. Also, as we got a little older, I was introduced to my first large scale playboy collection : ). My formative years were spent playing with these kids and around the man who I am referencing and to those who know who I am talking about I am truly sorry for your loss. I can't pretend to be as close to you guys now as I was then but to say I have forgotten the summers spent playing on a highway that at the time was being built or swimming in a river, or playing fumble rumbles in a third floor finished attic would be a lie.
I recently connected with an old friend from my teenage years, a man that I worked long night shifts at a fast food chain with in the dead of summer, 110 degrees flipping burgers, making 18 inch tall ice cream cones for jerks that complained the first one was too small and collecting an absurd amount of beanie babies with, that is another story for another time. Again, we were not the closest of friends but I can say that when he was working, the shift was better, the shift was lighter, you knew there would be fun and shenanigans going on and you knew his Mom would be around at some point. While he was older than me he didn't drive, his mother drove him every day, to and from work. In a car that he clearly was allowed to put his stamp on. I am pretty sure his mom did not want the latest stereo or the biggest speakers or the loudest bass but he did and that was enough for her. She was an adopted mother to him on paper, but his real mother in heart. She was quick with her wit and on more than one occasion would shoot a look at her son that made me stand at attention. She has moved on to a more peaceful place having battled two types of cancer and she will be missed greatly by those that knew her well, as well as those that just knew her a little...
My father was a hard worker and my mother was a stay at home Mom, money was tight growing up but we really didn't notice it on a day to day basis. We were kids, we had toys, we had food and we went places. Life was good, times were simple compared to now. But what I did know, was that my mom's friend had a much bigger house than us and she was super cool. She will be remembered for many things, her hatred of Christmas having been born on Christmas Eve and her love of all things Precious Moments.... oh and the fact that she will always be the one person who fed me a dog treat (hopefully the only person that is). This story is rooted in my desire to be a giant pain in the ass. My mom took me over to her best friends house to play with her kids and hang out and I remember seeing these snacks on the counter that we never had. "These must be what people in big houses snack on," I had convinced myself. So of course I was eyeballing them all day. Finally she told me to go ahead and take one of the snacks and blah blah something something. I had totally tuned her out after I heard go ahead and take one, turns out the rest of the sentence was, "and give them to the dog". I ate it. Big bite down in what eventually would be explained to me was a dog biscuit lol. She was my Mom's confidant, her best friend, her defacto sister if you will.
Again, life changes your surroundings on you sometimes and people move, change school districts and life takes you away. While I will never try to pass off her children as my best friends growing up, we were however connected. Since the advent of social media we have connected several times, talked shop, talked family, talked kids, and unfortunately talked loss. My mothers friend battled long and hard against cancer and ultimately lost the fight in the beginning of this year. She, along with her children, had all found their way to the Carolinas and I had not seen them for quite some time. A memorial was held here, in NJ, and her kids and their kids were there. I was able to talk to them, connect, meet their children and share that dog treat story again. It was an honor to know this woman and her family, she is known to my kids as Aunt and always will be.
So why so much talk of sorrow on this post? I was thinking about this last night as I thought about all of these parents and how these children (even though they are in their 30's now) must be feeling and it brought on the realization that sometimes we need to really stop and take stock in who we are to everyone around us. We get so caught up in being a parent, a sibling, an employee, a co-worker, a friend that we forget the one thing we were literally born to be, a son or daughter. We sit and worry over and cry for our children, wishing we could help them, wishing we could carry them over the troubled times or at least hold them up as they traverse life that we forget that our parents are thinking the same thing about us. It's hard to be a parent and a child, everyone does it at some point but it is difficult. All the things we lose sleep over because of our kids we did, or are currently doing, to our parents. While they may not be able to physically do the same things or have the desire to do them they still wiped our butts, tears, and blood when we needed them to.
Mortality is not an easy topic to deal with, it is not fun, it is not uplifting, it is nothing but certain. I feel for these people, these friends, these acquaintances. I cannot imagine what it feels like to be missing someone who was there for EVERYTHING from the moment you took your first breath. I guess maybe what I am saying is that it is important to remember to hug your parents a little tighter from time to time, make time to talk to them, ensure them that your life is good, things are moving in the right direction, and you have not forgotten all the good they have done because one day you might not be able to.