It occurred to me this morning, with some sadness, that my Grandparents on both sides of the family have been dead and out of my life for longer than they were ever in it. On my Dad’s side, both of his parents have been gone for damn near forty years. First his mother to dementia, then, while I was still in high school, his father — who was mowed down in the street by a young dunderhead driving with a girl in his lap.
My mother’s parents died in the mid-eighties: first her dad, who went quite suddenly one morning while he was getting dressed, and then her mother, who lived on several more years in decreasing health and increasing grief and bitterness.
It pains me to think that the mid-eighties are now thirty years gone. They’ve been gone more than half of my life.
It’s true that my grandparents live on in my memory, and that they were of such great importance to my youth that their impact is still felt by me today, all out of proportion to the amount of time I actually had with them. I miss them very much. That I am relatively safe and secure today (although that could always change in a flash: life has a bad habit of doing that to you) is entirely due to the efforts of my Grandpa Claude. I wish that I possessed an ounce of his sense.
Now my mother has been gone for five years, and to a great extent those five years have whooshed by in a blur worthy of Quicksilver or The Flash. I hope and trust and am pretty well sure that I will not live long enough to be able to say the same thing about her that I can now say about my grandparents.
I can pretty much guarantee that most people of my generation do not think of ourselves as being old: although we see increasing signs of it on the horizon, and young people seem to go out of their way to make us feel ancient. But we are not living in the world of our present anymore. As my friend BC pointed out to me recently, we are living in those decades and years that we used to look ahead on with awe, wondering what it would all be like and if we would have our flying cars by then. We are living in the future.
Which makes me think, “Damn, enough of this chain of thought. Shake a leg. You have work to do.”