parents, aging, yadda

My dad turned 70 yesterday. He seemed pretty chipper about it when I talked to him, but my mom told me later that it’s been bothering him a lot. It probably doesn’t help that over the past few years, two of his five golf buddies have died (in all fairness, they were both about ten years older than my dad), and another one was just recently diagnosed with inoperable cancer. So this birthday has bummed him out considerably more than, say, turning 60 did.

But honestly, it’s kind of got me freaked out too. I’m used to my dad being older – when I was a kid, he was the oldest of all of my friends’ dads. (Except one of my friends, whose dad had been married and had a few adult children before remarrying and having one of my classmates. He was kind of a gross dad, though – alcoholic redneck guy – so I never counted him.) But the word “seventy” just sounds so old. I’m used to thinking of my dad as this big, imposing, scary guy. It’s kind of strange to try to transition that mental image to one of “little old man.” That label just doesn’t fit him. Of course, he’s not exactly big or imposing either; he was 5’11” at his tallest, and his posture is so bad that he’s lost a few of those inches over the past couple of decades. I guess that’s just the image of him that I have from my childhood. When you’re three feet tall, 5’11” seems pretty enormous.

It got me thinking that one of the reasons why I’m so motivated to get pregnant right now is because I have a fear that my kids won’t remember their grandfather. It’s not exactly one of the top items on my list of priorities; after all, there’s no reason to think my dad won’t be around for a long time, he’s totally healthy. But it’s there, lingering in the back of my head.

My grandfather (my father’s father) died when I was five years old. I don’t recall much about him. I remember what he looked like, although that might be more from family photos than my own memory. I have a vague memory of sitting on his lap and him laughing. (When I told this to my mom, she said, “Yeah, he thought you were hilarious.” It’s nice to know that I was putting on my little comedy routines for people before I was even out of diapers.) And I have this feeling, not really a memory, but just a sense of being loved, if that makes sense. That makes me the saddest of all, because I wish that he had been around for a few more years so that maybe I could remember more about him. I don’t want my kids to miss out on getting to know their grandfather or feel deprived like that, which is (one of many reasons) why I’d like to hurry up and get on the damn baby bandwagon. (You hear that, ovaries?)

Of course, anytime the subject of an impending-grandparent status comes up in conversation, my dad lectures me about how Dave and I should wait, how we should be more financially stable first, and that he doesn’t want to be a granddad yet because that’ll make him “old.” My mom is pretty sure that he’s going to change his tune the minute he sees (and falls in love with) his grandchild.

So there’s that.

Oh, and right now there are two guys outside of my office talking about childbirth. One guy asked another guy about a local hospital and he said, “yeah, that’s where I had my daughter.” Um, excuse me? I’m just guessing that your wife might’ve had something to do with that particular hospital visit, buddy. Call it a hunch.

One thought on “parents, aging, yadda

  1. Word. It’s like you were hanging out in my head when you wrote this. My paternal grandfather died when I was five, too. One of my clearest memories of him involves walking down the hallway of the ICU unit the day he died. My sister and I had to stand in the hallway; we weren’t allowed in the room. I was wearing patent leather shoes.

    My paternal grandmother is in the hospital right now, and I went home to visit her two days ago. She was in the same hospital, in ICU. I haven’t been there since my Pop Pop died, 22 years ago on St. Patrick’s Day. When I got off the elevator on Monday, I almost fell over. It was just a really strange feeling.

    My dad is really being strong for my Nanny, and he just looks so tired to me. He looks… old, but also? He looks like a scared little boy, just for a few fleeting seconds, whenever the subject of Nanny possibly passing away comes up. I had the same thought, about wanting my Nanny to be a great-grandmother, but that was really a shout-out to my sister’s ovaries, not mine.

    Oh, and we had a little baby shower at work for a guy whose wife is due any moment. Everyone kept asking him if he was scared and worried about getting through the whole labor and delivery process. Like I said… Word.

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