That talk


A long trip north to my ancestral home for an unexpected funeral, gave me a bittersweet chance to reconnect with the Yankee half of my family after a 20-year absence.

Amazingly, I recognized them all. Everyone had changed physically, but I knew immediately who they were once we hugged. It was like we are all kids again… but not.

During the service, sitting next to a cousin, one who still has the mischievous smile of a little boy who just did something naughty, I enjoyed calling him “old man.” Especially since he is a couple of years younger than me, and is already a grandfather.

I could have hugged him again when he acted genuinely surprised when I confessed to turning 50 last year.

Seeing my dad with his surviving brother and sister, made me realize that if my cousins and I are now the grey-hairs, then our parents are ancient. It was as if I suddenly recognized that my father, being the oldest remaining sibling, could be the next one we gather to celebrate.

None of them are in the best of health, and it was unsettling to face their mortality in such an undeniable way.

As uncomfortable as it can be for parents to have “That Talk” with their small children about sex, it’s even more uncomfortable for kids to have “That Talk” with aging parents about funeral plans and drawing up wills. (Incidentally, the only thing regarding any inheritance I’ve asked of either of my parents is that they spend it enjoying themselves now.)

Fortunately, both my parents have already made their final arrangements, and have them written out in fine detail. As grateful as I am for their forethought, I have serious doubts that it will be all that comforting when we’re summoned together for their funerals.

5 thoughts on “That talk

  1. My Mom had a health scare last year (thankfully, she was fine) and then my dad had a heart attack and open heart surgery this year. These two things made me face my parents’ mortality head-on and it knocked me to my knees. I’m not ready, not at all…..


  2. Last weekend, my husband’s sister was in town. We got to have “the talk” among us, and we were relieve to find US on the same page. But whether we can get his dad on the same page…

    …time will tell. (I just hope we have time…)


  3. Oh. Yes.
    First I’m so glad your trip allowed hugs and reunions of sorts I’m glad that your dad had you there to help say goodbye to his sister.

    I know that my mom and stepdad also have all their ducks in a row financially and otherwise but like you it will be little comfort if they go. Right now just thinking about their move to GA or NC (that’s the only question left, which house in which state) had left me sobbing that they might be so far away. So I understand.. And empathize. At 43 I know that they can (and eventually will) leave me and that breaks my heart.

    This was a beautiful testament to what our generation is feeling about our parents.


  4. Likewise when you talk to your children about what arrangements you’ve made for yourself. I found myself looking into the wide maws of three mouths and six eyes the size of New Jersey! Made me laugh. They didn’t see the humor. Sigh…


  5. That’s one of the reasons I cry so hard at funerals, not just for the loss of the loved one, but because I can’t imagine life without my family..


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