Sunday, February 16, 2014

Missing People

After 44 years together I guess it’s inevitable that the husband and I have the same conversation more than once.
Conversation #23 covers our regret over the people who are now gone from our lives. Yes, we miss them, but another aspect of their absence is the lost chats.

          My father died when I was a self-involved twenty-year-old, busy with marriage and a baby. He was an analyst for a Certain Information Appendage  of the government, and in fact died while giving a briefing in the Pentagon. The last time I saw him, he exhorted us to wish for war (or a tiny version of one) since he’d just written an estimate regarding skirmishes on the Russian/Chinese border. I’d love to hear his opinions on domestic and world events over the past umpteen years.

          My relationship with my mother was a bit of a minefield since she’d been an alcoholic during the years I lived with her. After her recovery we pieced together a re-connection before she died when I was in my late thirties. I’d like to chat with her about family history. Our tree was filled with some pretty colorful characters – how many great-grandfathers do you have who have met Jesse James?
          My mother’s brother was an English professor for thirty-five years. My own teaching career began late, and I was just beginning to finally get into my subject when he passed away. We could have compared his years of lecturing about Tennyson in an Oklahoma agricultural university to mine of teaching Whitman in an inner-city high school.
          The most we can do, I suppose, is to pay more attention now to the people we do have, and hope to be interesting enough that someone might one day regret a lost conversation with us.
My handsome parents


  1. Oh, Marty, we must all be contemplating legacies, this seems to be an occasional theme of late. When I was in my thirties I came up with a way to keep my grandmother "involved." She was old, frail, reclusive. I would ask her some idle thing about her childhood, and she would go on and on, with no further help from me. I remember some of those stories now, in their entirety. I tried the technique with my mother, but don't remember her stories as much. And yes, how I regret all the relatives I skipped over. But now it seems the same to me, in reverse. Youngsters don't seek me out for a story, but for a ride to their destination.

    1. Maybe because I lived them, but my memories don't seem as fraught with history as the ones I think I could have gained from my predecessors. I'm not sure what pithy stories I have to offer if anyone should ask!

  2. I feel the same way. When I smartened up and wanted conversations with my Dad, many of his memories had faded or become garbled. Now there are many things I wished I'd had a conversation about. My Dad died at age 95.

  3. I just finished uploading some pictures, and I, too, have been looking back. Is it this weather??

  4. What a great photo! I try so hard to not dwell on the losses and missed opportunities, but it's not easy. I just don't want to become like my mother who has been telling me who's now dead ... for the past 50 years; and my learning disabled brother who gives the "thumbs down" whenever I mention the name of someone who's no longer living (which is oddly funny).

  5. How nice to hear from you, Mitchell.
    What an efficient family - you can receive the news two ways, orally and visually.

  6. Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my post. It's always great to find new friends - and I already feel a connection as I was a teacher, too!
    I so agree with your conversation #23. I face that with my dad, who is still with us physically, but the man he was is lost to me now. It is so sad to see him decline.


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