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April 4, 2013: Parents

There are a few things that we humans know for sure. The first is that we are all going to someday die. The second is that our parents are also someday going to die. We do not know when the latter will be. Actually, it may already have happened. Either you live with loss from an early age, or you acquire it at a later age. One way or another, their passing on is a given.

I suspect, though I don’t know for sure, that dealing with a parent’s death is one of the most stressful life events imaginable. Having supportive siblings better enables all to deal with the accompanying mental trauma. I feel bad for children that are only children because they don’t have anyone with the same genetic make-up to (at the very least) commiserate with.

I’m lucky. I have one sister. Together we’ll support one another in the days, weeks, and months ahead. The upshot is

this – our father will be 81 this week. And our mother will be 84 in late May. Both have related health issues. A few years back my father began having seizures. It was finally determined that he has epilepsy, controllable through the use of drugs. Is this a coincidence or what? They both grew up in Upstate New York so it could be the chemicals that the Kodak Co dumped in Lake Ontario. More likely it was something in Genesee Beer: They both drank their share.

A few days ago my mother began having seizures, maybe controllable through the use of drugs. My sister, who was with my mother, immediately took her to the hospital. Mother is now in a rehab/nursing home setting. We don’t know yet if she’ll return home or have to be moved elsewhere. It’ a matter of wait and see. If it turns out that El needs help with sorting through the stuff in my mother’s apartment, I will/must certainly head down to America and give her a much-needed assist.

This is difficult for me because my mother and I are not close. We get together and in a very short while the sparks begin to fly. These sparks actually come from both directions. I don’t know why this is, but it’s been this way ever since I can remember. Conversely, my mother and sister have always gotten along. In fact, they’re best friends.

When I’m with the two, I’m the odd one out, the tag-a-long, the one on the fringes. I recently determined that this is why I’ve never done well in groups of three women. I always thought the problem had to do with one of the other two. But this has happened so many times that I now know that I’m the problem. I guess I have not learned what most women know, which is how to mediate with two, as opposed to one other person.

Some other things I’ve figured out. If you’re close to a parent, and the parent passes on, you must deal with resolved issues. And if you’re distant from a parent, and that parent passes on, you must deal with unresolved issues. Both are equally difficult. But all this, it’s universal. We also have our mother and father’s DNA. So when they die, a part of us, that is our past, also goes with them. It’s the end of complementary collective memory.

It could be some rough seas in the days, weeks, and months ahead for Eleanor and me. My mother and I might never resolve our differences. The best thing I can do is accept the fact that this is the way it might be. And the second best thing I can do is to be supportive of my sister, who is my mother’s keeper.

Eleanor’s going to keep me posted as to where Mom goes next. I told her that this is like UPS Parcel Service tracking. A good analogy, if I don’t say so myself.

Next: 95. 4/5/13: Our Horses, Our Teachers