I had lunch with Teresa from Tales from Toddlerdom and Mommyhood this afternoon. Teresa also has an online boutique here, which is worth checking out. Last January, Teresa posted about butterflies and loss and reincarnation and love and I think of that post almost every day.

I am constantly seeing little things that remind me of people I lost. A candy, a coffee, a cologne, a car. Little tiny things that happen every day every where to every one but mean something to me. I like it. It reminds me that even though people are gone from my life, they aren't gone from my heart. Sometimes I see big things that remind me of people I lost. Not big in size, but big in meaning. It helps me make sense of the world.

When I think about it, I almost feel bad because I never cry over losing someone. A few tears, sure, but they are for me, not for the dead person.
They're dead.
That happens to everyone.
It's like crying on tax day.
I cry for me.
I'm such a jerk.

Then again, I've never lost anyone closer than a grandparent and a few close acquaintances. A friend's child who I never got a chance to see. A cracked out co-worker. Who still owes me $5. Dammit.

Teresa lost her mom. A lot of my friends are losing their parents. We are at that tweener age where some of us have moms and dads in their 50s and some of us have moms and dads in their 70s. Lots of my friends are Oops!Babies. I love grownup Oops!Babies. They are usually fun people. Fun people who lose a parent by the time they are in their mid thirties. It's strange to watch because I feel like we are just babies but all this adult stuff happens to us.

I guess it's not really considered tragic if you lose a parent after you grow up. It's not really unexpected. Not really traumatic, provided the person goes quietly. Not really anything but just the way it's supposed to be.

I feel lucky that I still have both parents. I am happy they got to see my kid, got to love him, and got to know him now that he's big enough to love them back.
If I lost one today, I like to think that I am completely okay and at terms with the way my relationship is with them and I like to think that nothing has gone unsaid and that they would pass away quietly, feeling the same.

If I died today, I like to think that my mom and dad would be grateful for my 32 weird years here and they would be confident in the job they did with me. I turned out pretty well. I've had a lot of fun. Been a lot of places. Did a lot of things. More than most people get to have and be and do.
My dad would think I was burning in Hell, but since I don't believe in Hell I don't believe he has anything to worry about so that's his damn problem. My mom would think I was was not burning in Hell so I'm guessing she might take it a little bit better. She would probably shake her head at my dad and think "Jesus, Roy. Pull yourself together.".
I would. I've seen him need to pull himself together. I shook my head and said "Jesus, Dad. Pull yourself together.".

You know what else I'm thinking of? How when we grow up and get to know our parents we realize what jerks our grandparents might have been back in the days when they were just plain old parents, nothing grand about them.
How those things about our parents that just. aren't. right. came from somewhere. Your grandma might have been a stark raving lunatic bitch before you were born, and grandad might have come right back at her with his surly bastard ways and your parents and aunts and uncles got caught smack in the middle of all the madness and did lots of hippiedippy drugs or danced all silly and mashed potatoey to cope and all the drugs and dancing did was smash it into repression and then it all came flooding out when you were born and you got the worst of it. And that's why your parents are so effed and that's why you are the way you are with your issues and such and hopefully your great-great-grandma's oldentimey dysfunction isn't getting passed on to your kiddo as we speak. Type. Read.

Don't eff up your kid just because your family is effed.
Or something.
Lawdknows I'm trying not to.


Shelly Overlook said...

My mom and I agreed on what our "symbol" would be for one another if either of us should die. You know, like a blue butterfly or purple cockatoo, something real but sort of unique. Problem is that neither of us can ever remember what "symbol" we agreed upon. Losers!

Miss Grace said...

My grandparents were fucked parents. They had drinking problems, and neither set (one with five kids, the other with six) had any fucking clue why they had any kids at all, let alone so many. And then they had money and didn't know how to raise their kids in such a way where they would think working was important.

They're actually all pretty incredibly awesome grandparents though.

Haley said...

I somehow lucked out and got a really great set of grandparents on one side, and a wacky set on the other. My momo and papa were pretty good parents. Nothing too messed up, even tho Momo was the daughter of a southern baptist preacher and my papa moved out of his parents home at the age of 8 due to alcoholic parents. They were great parents and even better grandparents. The steinbauer's, on the other hand, just kept popping kids out (17 to be exact, only 14 lived.) The older ones had to take care of the younger ones. They all had to pay for their own, required, catholic school. The kids had to help provide food for the family, even though they owned a farm market...hmmm, that makes no sense to me and sounds pretty messed up. Oh well. They are pretty good grandparents. Just a little crazy! My mom is just nutso crazy though...still trying to figure that one out!

Jori said...

I hear you on everything and for the record, I'm sick and tired of people blaming their lack of whatever on what their parents did to them. Yes, I get it made an impression on you but YOU make the decision to change the things that need to be changed. I will NEVER EVER forget when my dad asked me on the way to church what I wished was different about their parenting. He backed up my thoughts with, "When you become a parent, take a class otherwise you'll end up doing the same thing. You'll need to relearn those behaviors because it's what comes naturally to you."

God, did I just say all that? I really just wanted to say grow up and take accountability for your kid who's now the most important part of your life - not your ego.

susan said...

Me, too. Me, too. The trying to understand where all the baggage and garbage comes from and trying, trying, trying not to shuffle it off on my kid. Too bad I won't know how I've done until it's too late...

noexcuses said...

Lora, have you been reading my diary?

Don't worry about how our kids are going to turn out; that's what therapists are for.

I truly believe that dysfunctional families are closer to the norm than we think!

Outstanding post! Really got my brain cells moving! Thanks!

Lucy said...

I'm 43 and totally thrilled to have both my parents. AND they are healthy, living on their own, my dad still works, a little part time job that he loves. I call my mom every single day, sometimes a couple of times a day.

I tell my kids when they are with their therapist just blame it on me, go ahead, that is what I am here for, they giggle. Hey, I own my nuttiness and yeah I probably got some from my parents but I really did have great childhood and not fair to blame them totally, just mostly(lol)

Tiffany said...


Amanda said...

I was an oops baby when my mom was 17 - on the other end of the spectrum. My Dad is 52, his last kid is just married and he has 5 grandkids. His parenting duties in life are essentially done.

My husband was a planned baby, but his parents were 39, and now they're 76. His mom is losing her mind (literally), and his dad is just getting more defeated every day. I don't expect my husband to have his parents much after he's 40 (that gives them 2 more years).

My family has it's fair share of alcoholics and hippydippy drug users. I'm just trying to give my kids some semblance of normal. After this last weekend I'm GLAD we live 5 hours away.

punkymama said...

I was an opsss baby. My Dad is 83 and really in good shape as well as my Mom who is 78. Having kids at 40 when I was born in 1967 was very uncommon. My sisters are 14 and 10 years older than I am. It makes me feel as though I have 3 mothers. I really feel the whole WWII greatest generation were so dysfunctional. My sisters who are in their early and middle 50's tried so hard to fight the dysfunction of their youth with their kids who are all now college age and above.

Funny story. My Dad was raised in NYC as the second youngest of 16 kids. He was raised by a single widowed Mother and TLC never showed up with cameras or anything. The big family TV shows REALLY irk my Dad.

A Free Man said...

I'm the same - no deaths in the immediate family. One of the things that freaks me out about living so far away, though, is that inevitability. I don't like the idea of them getting sick when I'm so far away.

Brandie said...

I learned alot of things about my grandparents after my grandma passed two years ago. It shocked me. Because to me, they were just nice and normal when I was around. Even as I got older. But they had real problems. And that stuff affected my parents. And now I understand it all...it totally makes sense.

Jen said...

This is a great post. I hold back when I blog because some things just shouldn't be in print. Thank you for emailing me and commenting on my posts. Hopefully, we'll be able to have a conversation face to face some day.

Hillbilly Duhn said...

I try not to eff up my kids. Though, if when they become an adult and think I effed them up, well then damn it, that's their problem cause I did my best...:)

Gwen said...

I don't thinking losing people we deeply, deeply love is ever easy, no matter how expected. My therapist was talking about expected and unexpected events (he used a fancier word, but I can't remember). He said that my sister's death or the death of any young person is more difficult to process emotionally because we aren't prepared for it. Young people shouldn't die. When people get old, we know that it's going to happen because they can't go on forever. Death is scary and yet in some ways I just want to get it over with already so I don't have to worry about it happening to me or someone else anymore. You know? The tears I cried for my sister (which were surprisingly few) were for her, for the life that she lost. It made me angry. I'm a piece of shit. I deserve to feel bad most of the time. So I wouldn't cry for me, you know?