In the past few months I’ve met at least two young men who have lost their parents. I’ve also been reading about a character who had to raise his brothers and sisters at the tender age of 19. I know it’s fiction, but I’m sure it happens.
I am almost twice the age of my young friends, and I still have both parents. My husband still has both parents. We know we are blessed.
What chills me, and when I say “chills” I mean I feel an icicle stabbing my heart and I want to cry, is when I think of the possibility of my own children in that situation. It seems self-serving to feel like they need both parents alive and well, and obviously I’m happy to be alive. It’s not that so much as the thought of not being in their lives any longer.
When our children left home, we sold our empty nest and moved to the tropics. I don’t regret the move, but sometimes I have to compare the lives of my children with their friends’ lives. If we had stayed put, our son could come home and work for the summer and actually save some money, instead of needing help just to pay his rent. He could use my car instead of considering his own with all the expenses, including the insurance cost for a young man under 25. I could easily make a road trip or short flight to visit our daughter. I could send homemade cookies in the mail.
Instead, every visit requires great planning, scoping out flights and rental cars and accommodation. Every phone call comes with worry about running out of minutes. Skype is our salvation, but that requires planning so we can coordinate schedules, as well as hoping they remember that we’d planned the Skype date. We may be retired, but our kids have busy lives.
With all these thoughts of what could have been, I am still eternally grateful that we made it to their adulthood. Every parent who has ever written up a will and carefully chosen potential guardians must know the feeling. Our children are adults now. We don’t need a designated guardian in our wills.
Still, parenthood doesn’t end there. I hope we’re around as long as our parents have been, not only because I want to live for so much longer and I still have that “bucket list”, but because I want my kids to have us there when they need us. They know their own hearts and minds, but we’ll always be their parents. Their father will always have an opinion and I will always try to offer comfort, advice, their favourite recipes or whatever they ask of me.
No, I can’t imagine being under 30 and having no parents. I will always be grateful for my parents. Now, as a parent of two adults, I am even more grateful to be in their lives.