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February 23, 2016: Parents and Self-History

Pete and I are both dealing with a similar situation. Both our fathers are deceased. His dad died in 1995 and mine died in 2015. Our mothers are both still alive but not doing that great. My mother, who is in a nursing home, recently had yet another stroke. And Pete’s mother, who is now in a rehab facility, also recently had a stroke.

We are far removed from our mothers in terms of literal distance. However, we both think about how our respective parents are doing every single day. Some days we don’t even speak of them, but of course they are a constant in our thoughts. It’s tough, we’d both like to be physically closer and in this way giving an assist to our siblings – but both time and money are (right now) harder to come by than we’d like.

I have been thinking a great deal about what happens in terms of one’s personal history after both parents are dead. There it all goes – that is their


Ruadi and Alys pass through the flags

memories of past family members. Little things then come into play. For example, if say photos in albums are unlabeled, it’s near impossible to ascertain who is in them.

The buck seems to stop here. I didn’t have children and neither did my sister. So there is no one to talk to abut my own history, much less what little I know about my parents and their parents.

I, of course, wish that I’d talked with my mother and father and at least gotten an abbreviated genealogical history. Apparently, my grandfather on my father’s side did extensive genealogical research, but it all got tossed when my grandmother died. I have heard said that my cousin Dennis did some genealogical reconstruction on my father’s side. And my sister did a college paper in which the subject was her family history, so there is some information out there. But, like I said, we both will be taking what little we know to our respective graves.

I wasn’t interested in getting this information when I was younger. Now that I’m older, and have glimpsed a bit of my own mortality, I would like to know more, in part because I now know that such things are key to self-understanding and identity.

Fathers pass on DNA. And the very best of them bond with their offspring. Mothers are the ones who bring children into the world. These children are literally a part of them. So to lose a father is a big deal. But to lose a mother is an even bigger deal. I suspect that one’s life is never the same after either parent departs, but the mother more so.

So Pete and I wait to hear back from our family members who respectively live in Oregon and California. We either get calls directly, or phone messages. The news as of late has been bad, so we are both bracing ourselves for what’s to come. The deal is, one can only deal with so much bracing. Afterwards, the kids pick up the remaining baggage, the bags now permanently heavy.

 

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