Thanks to My Parents
Roi J. Tamkin
This Thanksgiving holiday, I plan on giving my parents a big thank you. Not a thank you for all the years they’ve raised me and for always being there and all that standard mushy stuff kids say to their folks. I’m going to say thanks to my parents for not dying yet.
My parents are both in their early seventies and are sustained by the hundred pills they must take daily. Any imbalance in the amount of drugs they ingest may lead to something detrimental or possibly fatal. Aside from helping the pharmaceutical industry stay afloat, they lead a very active lifestyle. They still drive and live in their own home. I am beginning to wonder, how long can it all last? Ten years? Five years? I don’t know how I am going to handle the death of one of my parents. I realize that as long as they are alive, I don’t have to grow up.
My parents also hold valuable information that I may one day need. In the future, I might own a home. They can help me understand mortgages and insurance. One day I might write a will. I might have children. How do all these things work? My parents have years of experience with homes, wills, and children. They are a repository of knowledge so that I won’t have to learn by trial and error. But I don’t need to learn these things now. Will they be alive when I will need their help?
I rely on my parents always being here. I look forward to visiting them and the house. The house stores all the multi-generational memories. Photos and items passed down the family tree. It’s always to my parents’ house for family functions and home-cooked meals. Will the family dinners cease once one parent passes away? What happens to the house when both parents die? Where will I go for the holidays?
Phone calls worry me. I know my parents are falling apart. My mother has osteoporosis and my father’s muscles are detaching from his bones. They have diabetes and arthritis. My father has recently suffered a minor stroke. I become scared when my mother leaves a message on the machine. She usually starts every message with a sigh because she gets the machine instead of me. Coming home and hearing that sigh makes me wonder if something serious has happened. When my grandmother passed, my sister called very early the next morning to tell me to get on a plane to Boston for the funeral. Any early morning phone call makes me very nervous.
I know that every moment is precious, since they have very little time left. They’ve already exceeded the life expectancy, but I don’t think they’ll make twenty more years. I’ve begun recording an oral history with my father, and I have to do my mother next. What will happen once they’re gone? I can’t imagine it.
So I plan to start telling them, “Thanks for being here now.”