Adulthood can often be a tough place to live. It’s where you find yourself confronting many truths about yourself and perhaps for the first time seeing what makes others who they are and whether these are people who should be in your life. It’s suddenly possessing that magical and all-seeing third eye.
Also living within is the child in you with all that wide-eyed innocence, but this is now mixed with cynicism, anxiety and also a certain new wisdom.
There’ve been many lives before arriving where you are now and with many players along the way. Some had cameos and walk-on parts and others had major roles.
What lives with me forever will be my parents. They may have seemed bit players during my teen years, and then a “commitment” and kinda “keeping to tradition”, especially when first married.
The deeper one grows into adulthood and they’re no longer here, your parents come to mean more to you than ever.
Now, instead of visiting them and spending the time reading the newspaper or having lunch and then going to have a nap leaving your wife to bring them up to speed on how we were doing, there would be far more weightier issues to discuss.
This could be because of accepting guilt or finally making the time to face the truth.
It’s like seeing my mother go through the frustrations and ravages of Alzheimer’s and which eventually gave into full blown dementia before the soul left her eyes, she finally cut the cord and left us. Dad followed a few years later. He needed to be with her.
Having been born on the same day as my mother- Helen Primrose Jaliel who married an Ebert- and both of us being left handed and artists, maybe we were interconnected in ways we never realised. Or did but never let our guards down. We were taught to keep our feelings in check even between family.
Maybe I saw that dreadful disease slowly and then quickly crippling her long before admitting it was happening.
Maybe I saw it in how lost she got in her crossword puzzles, the repetition of her jokes and the day she kept knocking her head with her fist and saying to me, “Son, I don’t know what’s happening to me!” I could just watch.
Even then, admitting to myself that there was a problem came with certain “escape clauses” and a protective mental armour to avoid what could be called The Big Hurt.
It took my ex wife Trina to make the time to fly down to Melbourne and be her carer. After everything I had put her through, she needn’t have done it, but it was a promise she had made that my parents would leave this world with dignity.
Trina is an incredible woman- and the one person who Mum would immediately recognise when she would visit her in hospital with a very positive, “And how’s Helen today?” Helen was fine again.
It’s now both amusing and emotional thinking of her funeral where I was there, but not really, and, once again, leaving everything to my ex wife while I was putting on that coat of many colours and disappearing into it.
It definitely had to do with where I was in my life at that time and the pack with whom I was running- some grubs in Australian horse racing- and mainly disappearing into every form of escapism.
I was recently divorced and trying to convince myself that I was enjoying the “freedom” when actually unhappy as hell and not thinking I would even see tomorrow.
It was like that Smokey Robinson song about the tears of a clown and me finding ways to be comfortably numb like a Pink Floyd track.
Watching my mother falling apart was something I didn’t want to see or know about. It was about ignorance being bliss. But no matter how hard one tries to outrun those hounds of Hell, they catch up with you and then it’s about how honest you are with yourself.
It’s not unlike pouring your heart out in a song, and, like Dylan said, there are blood on the tracks.
We’re all different and all I can say is that none of us have our parents forever.
While they’re here, make the time to get to know them- really know them- and don’t hold back in showing them how much you love them.
It’s better than talking to them when they’re six feet in the ground.