No matter how close or distant a parent was in the emotional plane, the locational plane or the acceptance of you plane, when they go, a huge chunk of your history goes with them. This is the only person who can remember your childhood clearly. Siblings may recall parts but if they are close in age, their memories will be fuzzy or distorted and if they are much older than you, they likely were not paying much attention to you!
So saying goodbye to the time capsule that is your parent is a flux in the system. Gone is any chance to ask questions, to right any wrongs, to fill that ‘I meant to” basket of procrastinations. Over. Done. Final. It’s sobering.
Then there is never hearing their voice again. If you were close to Mom or Dad and they brought joy and wisdom to your life, the pain will be greater. They leave a deeper void. A missed routine. It’s Sunday, and there is no one to call now. You feel adrift.
And it of course, the loss of a parent shines a red-hot beacon of light on your own mortality and sense of purpose. Having observed your parents over these last years you may see some foreshadowing on how you do or do not want to spend your last years. Did they watch endless cycles of Fox or MSNBC? Did they sit in a recliner and eat soup? Were they socially active and adventurous to the end? Were they involved with community, grandkids or card clubs? How important was that social network to their overall emotional health? What friendships and routines are you establishing for yourself in these early years of your Olderhood? What habits and friendships are you pursuing that will sustain you as your mobility and energy ultimately wane? And it will.
If you are still with your folks and dread calling cause they fumble the phone, can’t hear well, answer “yes” to open-ended questions because they are guessing at the question, if they tell you the same news they told you last Sunday, if they tell you what they had for dinner in detail, GRIT IT OUT. For every moment you spent dreading the call, or hastily wrapping it up, you will feel sad about it. It is a finite number of years and they cherish hearing from you, however cloaked or repressed they are, your call means the world to them.
That old advice still holds, “Call your Mom”. ( Or your Dad.)
Trust me, you will be glad you did.