Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Aging parents

My dad's in the hospital and this is the first time I've ever been that worried about him in all the past year's events -- selling the house, moving into a retirement community, knee-replacement surgery, several weeks of recuperation in the on-site health center, then returning to his apartment and an ongoing regimen of physical therapy.

I suppose those were all easier to prepare for because I had warning. I knew he was going to sell the house for like a year, and he told me about the retirement community idea at least six months in advance of moving, and same with the knee surgery, which I suspected would mean a lengthy recovery afterward. I was prepared for all that.

When you get a phonecall from an administrator at the retirement community and she says she's "worried about your dad" and doesn't know where he is and they checked his apartment and he wasn't there, that's slightly panicking.

Turns out he had left me a message on my other phone at roughly the same time I was talking with Cora, and he had checked himself into the hospital on Tuesday because of an elevated blood count and they needed to run some tests. He's alright, although he sounds a little disoriented, or maybe just drugged. But he'll be in the hospital for a few more days.

Ever since my dad's knees went bad and he started having so much trouble walking and stuff, it's made me realize just how old my parents are getting. I looked at his face a year or so ago in the way we usually don't when we're looking at people we've been looking at for all our lives -- and he was just so old looking.

My mom's still in pretty good health and stuff, although her eyesight's been terrible in nighttime conditions for many years, which makes driving at night a really bad idea. But she had keratotomy surgery on one eye quite a few years ago and it made a huge positive difference.

I'd always been pretty resigned to the fact that my parents were a lot older than most of my peers', since they got me pretty late in life, and I know this has had several important impacts on my life. For one, it meant that they were hopelessly incapable of relating to me by the time I reached my teens, and it's pretty much been all downhill from there. Of course, this is the way of the world, so I guess it should come as no surprise. But when I was 18 or so I realized that history would repeat itself unless I myself had kids when I was in my early- to mid-20s (and admitedly I wasn't so dumb as to think I'd still be able to relate to my kids when they were teens, but at least it'd be a little easier). Now, however, in my 30s, I am in eminent danger of repeating history if Velma and I have kids. Oh well. Maybe someone will invent a Parent-Child Relater Device? sometime before 2020.

Another important impact is one that hasn't happened yet. My (theoretical) kid(s) may never know their paternal grandparents. And vice-versa. This would be a shame, of course, because I'm sure that somewhere down deep inside my dad there's something grandfatherly he'd want to pass on. Fishing maybe?

Anyway. I'm a little sad about all this today. But at least I don't have a tumor.

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