Saturday, February 3

A new savings account

My father on his 80th birthday in December 2006

When I was born my parents were already in their 40s, which is perhaps not such a big deal these days but was quite unusual in the 60s. As I was growing up I always liked that they were older, despite the fact that they were neither hip nor cool. But they were chilled out, they were always around, and they always welcomed my friends to come over. I never had a reason to be embarrassed.

But now they are quite old and their bodies are starting to let them down. My father has always been a very active and fit man and still, despite his age, walks or cycles wherever he needs to go. But when I spoke to him last night there was an emptiness in his voice I have never heard before. More worrying his voice was slurred and he seemed to struggle to form words. He sounded so down and I heard how I became almost hysterically cheerful, desperately trying to make him believe I hadn't noticed a difference in him. I was too terrified to ask any questions, and in the end we spoke for a few more minutes more before hanging up.

Afterwards I recalled a conversation we had only a few weeks ago. That conversation had left me feeling so happy that I wrote it down.

16 January 2007
So happy when pappa called today. I must remember his voice, it sounded so light, so happy. At one point in the conversation I had a sensation of time slowing right down, almost to a complete standstill. Maybe to remind me to be mindful of him, of the conversations we have. These moments will one day be important memories.

And so last night, after a few tears, I made a promise to myself to open up a pappa account and deposit into it memories I have of him, past and future conversations (particularly the good ones) and anything else that comes to mind. I need to save for the future.


La Cubana Gringa said...

These moments are important to collect and save. It's part of the reason I've always been such a fan of scrapbooking and writing. I've recently started interviewing my grandfather and writing things down, as I recognized when my grandmother died, that within him lie many of our families stories. Stories of our Cuban beginnings that would otherwise get easily lost amongst the new American memories. I might even post some of these stories in the future.

Fill your "papa account" with cherished stories! It's the best kind of savings account there is! I'd love to hear some of them!


Waspgoddess said...

It's true isn't it that it's all too easy to forget or ignore family stories and memories. Since my parents are quite old I am very aware of the fact that the day will come sooner than I want when they are no longer around. It's particularly hard at times since I live in a different country and so can't just pop over.

I actually bought a dictaphone and whenever I go to Sweden I too "interview" them. It's wonderful to hear their stories. I'm sure your grandfather must have some pretty amazing stories to tell as well. I would love to read some of them if you decide to post them (and if your sense of humour is indeed inherited I can imagine them being pretty outrageous...)

Thanks for your kind words. It is, like you said, very nice to have blogger friends :)

Sophie said...

I think it is a wonderful idea. I should open a savings account for my grandmother. As she isn't getting any younger too... 82 :)

xo Sophie

Waspgoddess said...

Sophie, thanks for stopping by and for your comments. Do start recording your grandmother's stories, you won't regret it.

I spoke to my dad again today, and he sounded almost like his usual self. A relief...

Uber Mer said...

One of my biggest fears is watching my parents age. To me, that's as real as it gets, not my own mortality, but my parents. I'm so lucky to have a "memory bank" of my own, to look back and hold on to.

this was a very touching post. xo Mer

Waspgoddess said...

Mmmm... it's hard to watch your parents age, it's hard to listen to them talk with increasing frequency about aches and pains.

I agree with you that dealing with our own mortality is a good deal easier than dealing with the mortality of our loved ones.