You never outgrow your parents

This past April my parents flew out to New Jersey to meet their newest grandchild. Actually my daughter is technically the newest, but that doesn’t matter.

They arrived on April 17th. It was two days before my sister gave birth to her third child. And might I add that I find it strange that my younger sister has three children. Who said that she could be a mother and boy I can’t wait until the children are old enough for story time. It is good to be the uncle.

The trip was supposed to be two weeks, maybe 2.5, nothing more. But my father took ill. He developed pneumonia and it was like a house of cards collapsed. On April 28, they admitted him to the hospital and by April 30th I was on a plane from LA to Newark. The last I heard before I got on the plane was that they thought he might live through the weekend, but they weren’t sure. But they came short of promising that he wouldn’t die prior to my landing.

All of this has been well documented here. I am eternally grateful to my brother-in-law and the other docs at Morristown Memorial. They saved his life. He came home 4.5 months later, but he gave me one hell of a scare.

He had a triple bypass two days before my daughter was born. One of my biggest fears was that my wife would go into labor before he came out from surgery. It was a rough time and there are many stories that I can tell.

But the purpose of this post is not to recount his story. He lived, baruch hashem.

The point is that during this period of time I learned an awful lot about myself. I learned a lot about who my father is and what he means to me and I learned more about parents.

Without much work I can count off 5 friends who have lost one or more parents. The most recent death was about 3 years ago, otherwise fathers/mothers were lost quite some time ago.

I leaned on these friends a little bit harder than normal because they were able to share the burden with me in a way that others couldn’t. They understood the fear and trepidation of seeing a parent on a ventilator and the uncertainty of not knowing whether they would survive the night.

I also heard from many of my parent’s friends as well as had discussions with my three surviving grandparents. And here is what I learned.

It doesn’t matter if you are 90, losing a parent is just tough. There is something almost magical about your parents. Even as an adult, when you know that mom is just a woman and dad is just a man, you still think that they can save you. You still believe that they will always be there to tuck you in at night. And then one day they are not.

It is a bitter reality and a big change that most of us will face. G-d willing, we bury our parents and not our children. That is a nightmare that might break me. Actually, I don’t think that it would, but it would wound me in a way that nothing else could.

Anyway, I found this all to be interesting. And it was another reminder to me of the responsibility that I took on when I became a father. I don’t think that you ever really understand what being a parent is until you take the actual step of being one.

But it is something, boy is it something.

Give your mom/dad a call. Hug them if you can and remember that they still have something to offer.

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  1. vince millay October 19, 2004 at 6:52 pm

    Mine were nowhere near what Pandora described, but they weren’t gems either. My boyfriend, who met my mother for the first time a few months ago, said to me after, “I can’t believe you came from this environment.” My mom had me when she was 19, and my sister 15 months later. She was completely unprepared. A child of abuse herself, she fell into what she knew. Completely unpredictable. We’d be playing one second, and the next she’d be grabbing up one or the other of us and thrashing us with whatever she had handy…a shoe, flyswatter, belt, wooden spoon, one of those little wooden paddle toys with the rubber ball attached, the back of her hand. She was, and remains, cold and unknowable.

    Pops wasn’t much better, when he was around. He traveled a lot. Ended up cheating on my mom. When he was around, he tried to assert authority in the house he did not have, because he was always gone. He also tried to “toughen” us girls up by teasing us relentlessly until we cried, and then teasing us for crying. I can barely stand to talk to him now, because he still tries to use the same tactics even today.

    I envy other people’s close relationships with their parents.

  2. Stacey October 19, 2004 at 2:44 pm

    Oh Pandora, you really did not luck out in the parents dept. I am so sorry to hear of this. To be treated like this by the ones who are supposed to protect you the most in life is heartbreaking.

  3. Jack's Shack October 19, 2004 at 2:30 pm

    Hi Pandora,

    I am so sorry to hear that. You are right, some people shouldn’t be allowed to be parents or even procreate.

  4. Pandora October 19, 2004 at 2:26 pm

    You should count your blessings that you have good parents. My father (using the term loosely) was a violent alcoholic who threatened us constantly. The last thing he said to me was when he called me a bitch. I was 17 at the time. I haven’t spoken to him since.

    My mother married another alcoholic who sexually molested me when I was 13. When I was an adult, she confessed to me that she knew what had happened and that she knew I was only trying to steal him from her. I was 13. I don’t think children who are 13 years of age try to steal their stepfathers from their mothers. She should have protected me. I haven’t spoken to her in almost 20 years.

    I think I’ll skip the hugs if you don’t mind. Some people don’t deserve to be parents.

  5. Mr. Middle America October 19, 2004 at 7:14 am

    Wow… that’s a really good post. I find myself contemplating this more with child in tow.

    I guess that is what we, as fathers, do?

    Including, of course, appreciating our own fathers?

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