I’m getting older.
It’s a fact. Despite how I may look to myself in the mirror, it’s there. I see it most in my forearms. This might sound strange, but sometimes when I’m driving I’ll look at the bare stretch of arm between my cuffed sleeve and the back of my hand. That hair-clad length, announced by a fancy shirt rolled to look casual and broken by a watchband and finally topped by a gold wedding band… it’s a picture of how I must look on the outside. Old; established; a family-man; company-man.
One of the more interesting phenomenon around getting older, at least to me, is the way getting to know your friends’ parents changes. When we were younger, friends’ parents could be imposing, scary. Authority figures but not your authority figures. Old people who do dinnertime a little different than it’s done at your house. Old people who let their kids watch different movies than your folks allow. As far as relationships go, as a kid mine with my kid-friends’ parents were surface and cordial.
In my thirties now myself, I suppose I’m grown up. Sometimes there’s a moment where you realize that parents (not just your own, necessarily) are a pretty great thing. Meeting the parents of your peer-group becomes something different entirely. See because you’re all adults now. Yes different ages, but past a certain age the field gets leveled a bit and now you’re all just humans watching the clock from different places. Friends’ folks can be a window into what made a friend what they are today; gave them the feathers that now makes you flock together.
More, though, and what I wanted to write about, getting to know your friends’ folks is reminder of that generation’s mortality. And, by extension, the mortality of your own parents.
As adults you can relate… at this point the twenty-to-thirty year delta between you means a lot less than what it did when you were diapers or on training wheels. No you’re probably not going out for drinks on Friday, but it’s a lot different than what you had as kids during sleepovers. A dad of a friend gets cancer and you can feel that; you feel for his wife, your friend’s mom, for your friend, your friend’s family. Your friend’s mom dies unexpectedly and it’s not only sad but scary; stings doubly because you know this: moms are starting to die; dads are starting to die.
And amid sharing in the grief when a friend loses a parent, you can’t help but be reminded of that.
“You hear about Mitch’s mom? She passed away last weekend.”
“What?! She was just out to visit not a month ago, right? We did that barbecue… she seemed great.”
Moms and dads are dying and that, man, is a bummer.