Today would have been my parent's 60th wedding anniversary. My mother and father would be 95 and 100, respectively. Mother always said she did not want to live to be "too old" though I'm not sure she meant "old" so much as "infirm". She did live to be 81 but was bedridden the last 18 months of her life, felled by strokes. That was the kind of infirmity she dreaded. Mercifully, she died in her sleep. She loved me unconditionally and it was wonderful.
Dad lived to be 97. He's been gone three years now. It's hard to believe as he was such a presence in my life, mostly an irritating presence, but a presence nonetheless. I loved my father but he worried too much and he gave way too much advice. It's hard taking advice when you're in your fifties...forties...etc. I find myself doing the same damn thing. The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
My brother called to remind me today but I already knew. I'd been thinking about this anniversary for weeks. We talked a bit about them; how much we miss them. We both agreed it's amazing to be married that long. Our parents married late and both had previous spouses but no children. I suppose my husband and I can hit that number because we married 35 years ago and we're both only 50. Why yes, it was a shotgun wedding...
There is a common wisdom that says one can never again be a child once their parents have died. I have begun to think that is true. I know it in the deepest part of my Id. I know I can never again feel the warm comfort of my parent's arms about me, their kisses on my forehead, my father's hand holding mine. I can talk to them but I cannot be with them. And I really really miss that.
The older I become, the more I appreciate their wisdom, their sacrifices, the tragedies endured and the many gifts they gave me, not least of which are my values. As our parents leave us, the little irritations fade and the good things move to the forefront. As Martha would say, "It's a good thing."