If all goes as it should, we all end up being orphaned at some point in our lives. If we don’t, our parents have outlived us and that either means you have died a tragic and early death, or you are the offspring of vampires. And everyone knows vampires can’t procreate so…..
Just because we may see the total logic in this sequence of events doesn’t mean it isn’t a huge mind-fuck.
Whether you have a healthy or therapist-inducing relationship with your parents (I suspect the latter is much more rampant….and interesting), no matter what age we are, we rely on having our parents on earth and kicking.
They are a touchstone to where we are in relation to death and the natural pecking order.
They are also the keepers of our personal history in a way that siblings and friends are not.
Having just entered orphan-hood myself, I’m still navigating the sans parents world. I suspect I will settle into it. Right now, however, I can’t stop the loop of a cockney accent asking for another bowl of porridge that keeps running through my head.
I think I’ve been watching way too much PBS.
This transition was made even stranger this past week when I was in Minnesota for my mother’s memorial service. After the very touching and lovely tribute, my sisters and I decided we’d check out our childhood house.
I had not been back since I was 10 years old.
The real shocker was that not a whole lot had changed. The house was still there, well-kept, familiar and much smaller than I remember.
As we stood around outside the house, no doubt looking like the most inept and best dressed thieves ever, a nice, young Midwestern man came out to start to mow our….his….lawn.
We let him know that we were not some sort of middle-aged organized crime ring (though I may have to start one of those) but that we had grown up in his house. Like all Midwesterners, he was exceptionally friendly and warm.
But here’s the crazy kicker. He asked us what our last name was and when we told him, he smiled widely and told us he had something for us.
He ran into his garage and came back moments later with a tarnished brass door knocker with the name “A.J. Barnett, MD” inscribed on the face.
We were the original owners of the house and this knocker hung on our front door, identifying the town doctor and intimidating every boy who came to take my sisters out on a date. And, 40 years later, it was kept and passed on from owner to owner until this nice father could give it back to us.
I couldn’t help but picture my parents hanging that knocker on the door of their new home, my Mom pregnant with me, her sixth (yes, I said SIXTH!!!) child, my father thinking about opening the doors of his new private practice in this rural outpost.
They would live in that house for over a decade, struggle with raising a hoard of kids, mend broken bones and broken hearts, struggle with starting and keeping a medical practice going, make lasting friendships and build many memories for us.
They were very much like me….except the six kids. I’m not insane after all!
What the hell, Irish Catholics? Keep it zipped up why don’t ya!!
As I walked around my old back yard and watched my kids standing by the river that I played endless hours in, my new status of orphan didn’t feel so bad after all.
Man, I loved that sweater! I was pretty fond of that dog too.
Though I still have a real hankering for porridge.