October 13, 2006

Seasons Of Living

This is the first Christmas season without my mother and father and it has hit me hard. Granted, I am a middle-aged man with a family, and there are those who have suffered greater losses while much younger. Still, my children miss them very much, and their passing left a big hole in our lives. Also, not having parents leaves me at the top of the family tree along with my brothers and sisters. I’m too young for that, I think.

My nieces and nephews are either in college or getting ready to go. My daughter is in high school and we are already picking out universities from websites and catalogs. My son will be entering middle school next September, and I feel like life is sailing past me rapidly. I’m in my forties, sliding down the back end of the hill. There’s nothing but gray hair and an A.A.R.P. membership in my future. I’m not unhappy, but I have a vague sense that I lack accomplishment.

I keep telling myself that I exist solely to prepare my children for the future and create a better life for them. Everything I do, I do with them in mind. There’s a blissful movie which runs through my head each night before falling asleep, of my wife and I watching our kids graduating college, starting meaningful careers, getting married, and bringing their babies back home for visits. However, inside, I hear a voice, harkening back to my childhood, and it is agitated. The voice is me as a boy, and he does not realize that he is mature, older, and almost a half-century in age.

Perhaps we all have a similar, internal monologue which asks us if we’re emotionally equipped to move forward. Time does not stop because we need a breather. Yet, I can hush the voice with my keen grasp on reality. The compass I use to guide me through periods of such anxiety is my family. Each season reawakens dormant, and apprehensive sentiments which need to be dusted off and afforded attention. Much like the Christmas tree I pulled out of storage a few days ago along with boxes of accompanying lights and ornaments, my feelings will be dealt with anew, and they will settle down as I move forward and adhere to the happiness my family brings me during each holiday.

This year is the one which will be marked with me being at the helm of an older generation. I’ll miss my parents and others who have departed before them. Still, I cannot succumb to my inner child’s fear and allow myself even an instant of self pity or to wallow in remorse. After all, I have children who see me as a role model. One day they will lose me, and they need to know how to move on.