Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rites of Passage

Ever notice that when you haven't seen someone in a long time, that their image remains constant. So when you see them again, you have to readjust your perceptions? Add to that another conundrum. I also have very few people in my life who have remained constant. Divorces, interstate moves, etc cause a lot of changes in friends. I've also been out of state from my family for a number of years. Two years ago I went to my parents for the first time in seven years. In fact, in the last twenty years I've only been home a half dozen times. So every time I've seen my parents, I have struck by how much they have aged. My dad had a mild stroke, which he did not tell me. So when I saw him two years ago, I spent half a day staring at him, trying to reconcile his face, the movement of muscles, age, and the daddy in my head.

Today I've confronted this conundrum from a different direction. My children. Most folks are a part of major rites of passage. Consequently, they have the opportunity to reconcile themselves to change and maturity. I unfortunately wasn't invited to either son's high school graduations (I suspect their father had something to do with it). In fact, after they moved at around 16, respectively, I didn't see either son until they got married. So they remained teenagers in my head until they got married, some five or more years later.

It's been two years since The Enlightened One and his wife the Scientist got married. Part of my focus that day split with the Marine and the grief over grandchildren who didn't know who I was. So I didn't really have time to process the changes, the aging, the difference.

Tonight my son and his wife invited me to attend a movie on campus. So we went over and watched Captain America, which I loved. But it struck me that the attendees were more than half my age, and that I was likely the oldest person in the room. Indeed, my son is turning 25 this year. He introduced me to a college student who had been in his student teaching class.

I've been wrestling lately already with the image in the mirror looking like my this has been a very strange realization. Age not in the perspective of others aging, but from the perspective of my own aging. Missing so much of the last ten years of my kids lives really has done a number on my perception of age. It's relative. I wasn't really getting close to 50 until I looked around that room tonight.

Mind, I don't mind the aging thing. I mind the parts of lives that I miss around me. Or not around me, but in my absence. I also mind my knees, but that's another topic altogether. So, in a round about way, as I sat in that room tonight, it became a rite of passage. A growing awareness of change. Of acceptance of where I am in life. It's a little bit disconcerting.

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