Today is February 24. Tomorrow would have been my mother's 99th birthday so I have been thinking about that for a while. What I didn't remember until I was looking some things up today is that yesterday, February 23, was the 20th anniversary (if that is the right word) of my father's passing in 1991. So today is right between two important dates in my family history.
I recently started reading a book, "Growing Up" by Russell Baker, which started me thinking about family issues and how our outlook on our parents changes as we grow older. Baker wrote, "Children rarely want to know who their parents were before they were parents, and when age finally stirs their curiosity there is no parent left to tell them." This is, in my experience, very true.
As a son I realize how little I really know about my parents' lives other than the part I observed directly. And as a parent I realize that my sons know virtually nothing about me except as their parent. More importantly perhaps, my sons know almost nothing about my parents so there is no sense of family history, no appreciation of how their lives were shaped by their forebears.
It's too late for me to learn my parents' story from first hand accounts, but I hope I can pass along some family history to my sons, or at least give them an appreciation that their mother and I have lives other than as their parents, and maybe a desire to learn a little something about that. And while I'm at it I'll try to take more of an active interest in what's going on in their lives, too. It's amazing how out of touch you can be with your kids when they no longer live at home with you.
So I guess on this day I'm feeling nostalgic - for my parents who are no longer with me, and for my sons who have their own lives to lead. And all I can do is strive to be a better son by preserving and honoring the memory of my parents, and a better parent by providing a connection for my sons to know and understand the family that preceded them.
Dad, it doesn't seem possible that you've been gone 20 years - I still miss you. And Happy Birthday, Mom - I'll be thinking of you tomorrow and every day.