Growing Pains

Thumbnail: Dry bacon

I caught my father after a shower. How formal the word, father. Like addressing a character in some Elizabethan play. His hair was mussed, wild, even thinner than before. He’s been going gray since he was 15, and every couple of months he colours it black again. It works for him, taking at least ten years off his age. People don’t really know how old he is until he tells them that I’m in my twenties.

How scary it was to see him like this, like some crazy old fool with all his hair pointing outward and uncomposed, but still knowing that he was still my stable, strong, cold father. The thought that he may one day go senile, lose the virility that he seems so desperate to cling to, filled me with pity.

The bacon they serve me for breakfast is dry, dull, devoid of soft fat, or grease that pools in the waves of each strip. A result of his heart condition. No more cheese, red meat only once a week.

Thumbnail: Wrinkled hand

Even my mothers’ delicate hands have deeply withered, though they remain soft from her attentive care, which include varying sorts of designer hand creams and specialized lotions that follow her everywhere. My parents have long stopped wearing their weddings bands, but she wears one of my grandmothers rings, a beautiful old-fashioned cut on a clamp mount, left to her in the will. I remember my grandmother pinching my cheeks, holding my hand, her skin loose but, like mom, supple as a softened chamois.

I see this ring on my mother, and realize that she’s getting older too.

9 comments

  1. oh god that’s sad.. i try to block all that kind of stuff out cos it gets me down. this is exactly why i dont want to age.. because i know my mum will age with me.

  2. I remember feeling so terribly sad the day I looked down at my own hands and saw my mother’s. Time doesn’t wait, ever.

    Jeff, as always, you impressed me with your eloquent writing.

  3. time must go by. people get older. theres isnt anything we can do about it, even if it hurts so bad your heart feels like its about to explode.

  4. We don’t remember time we remember moments. You have here captured a moment in the same way a photograph does, with as much clarity and detail. It is what it is. My hands are getting older. I see my mother’s hands when I look at them. I do not feel sad, I feel like a pair of old shoes that just now feels soft and pliable with time.

    What you have written is beautiful. Your voice carries your thoughts and feelings with humanity.
    ME-Liz

  5. we all hope that when our parents are getting old, they will retain their mental clarity. when they are nearing death, that they will go quietly in their sleep, with no pain.

    we hope.

    btw i agree, this entry was written so well. keep it up jeff.

  6. Thank you all for your insights and kind comments.

    I’ve realized that I have yet to look at my own hands and see my fathers. My parents were in their late twenties when I was born, so even if I had perfect memory as a child, I still wouldn’t know the first glimpse of what their hands looked like for a few years.

    Now I wonder if the realization will come suddenly, or gradually.

  7. A few years ago in a family vacation to Greece I caught my mother off guard, through the entire trip she was cheerful, smiling and trying to look as if we are all having the time of our lives, which wasn’t true at all, my sister was doing her Anorexia routine while my mom had pretty severe shoulders problems, we were all annoyed and upset over each other and pretty reluctant to except change in the family situation.

    At one morning, as every morning in that trip, I went to meet my family near the hotel’s arrestant, and I saw my mom reading a book on the balcony, she wasn’t smiling or looking manic and happy, my first thought was “she is so old” then I had one of those rare moments of distouchment, of seeing things for what they are and I saw a scared, fragile and discontent person who lives his entire life in fear.

    I was hoping that this trip would allow me to connect to my parents as an adult, to find some new base to form a grown up relationship on and allow me to get over a lot of my teen anger and so on, in fact, it proved to me that whatever issues I have, I need to solve them on my own since they can’t really give me any answers, I realize I was more aware and mature then they ever had been and that I’m pretty alone in the world.

    In a way it served it’s purpose, cause since then I was less obsessed about pleasing them.

  8. I really like your site. I’m just exploring the blogworld and yours is very calming. Great clean layout, nice photo too.

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