I have stopped counting the years since my parents have passed away. They are frozen in time at the age of their passing. It wasn’t until I turned 42, the age my father was when he died that I for most likely the first time realized how truly young my parents were when they died and how much of life they were shortchanged!
My sister and I grew up with both of our parents having long extended hospital stays. It was the way things were done in the 60’s and 70’s. It was our normal and we did not think anything of it. Nor did we think that our parents were going to die by being in the hospital for long periods of time since they always came home except for the day my father passed away in the hospital. I remember it well.
It was a Sunday and I don’t remember who told us that when my mother got home from the hospital she had something to tell us. We went on playing that Sunday afternoon as if nothing had happened until my mother came home. Running to the door to great her, I knew something had happened. I was 9 years old and at that age and at that time in the 60’s you never would think of a parent’s mortality. I was not expecting her to tell us that our father had died and she had lost her husband, my grandfather a son, his sisters a brother.
Were we innocent and naïve? Or was it the times? I don’t have the answer! We were children.
But life changed quickly that Sunday afternoon for us. I remember my best friend calling to see if I was buying lunch or bringing lunch for school on Monday and that was the first time I said I was not going to school and told her of my father’s passing.
The house was now a house of morning. Mirrors covered so we would not see our reflection. Wooden boxes to sit on for Shiva so we would feel the pain. My grandfather’s cries and groans as he lost his only son who was given the middle name of Oldwyne during his childhood so this sickly child would live a long life. He did not live a long life!
The house filled was filled with people for the next week. Platters of food covered with yellow cellophane (to this day I can’t look at yellow cellophane) were arriving as well as so many fruit baskets. People were bringing my sister and me gifts; something I found hard to understand.
My story will continue…