© 2024 Interlochen
CLASSICAL IPR | 88.7 FM Interlochen | 94.7 FM Traverse City | 88.5 FM Mackinaw City IPR NEWS | 91.5 FM Traverse City | 90.1 FM Harbor Springs/Petoskey | 89.7 FM Manistee/Ludington
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Essay: Aging Parents

A few years ago, my neighbor died just short of her ninety-fifth birthday. She was fortunate to live so long and to die at home with her daughter at her side.

My mother died when she was sixty-one—in the hospital in a coma. I was not with her that morning because I was taking care of my toddler. I regret my absence—and also regret that my toddler grew up without knowing my mother.

My father died when he was seventy-five—suddenly and unexpectedly. I was not with him either but camping in the Upper Peninsula. He was not young exactly but not what we call “old” anymore. Nowadays, I have many friends who are taking care of aging parents. It is not an easy job and requires significant emotional and financial resources. I never had to bear this particular burden and in some ways I am grateful.

But I’m sad, too. My parents died sooner than I ever imagined they would—and long before we were able to resolve our many misunderstandings, enjoy each other’s company more fully.

So sometimes I imagine my mom and me having coffee at my kitchen table, saying the things we didn’t say. Like goodbye and, also, hello.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.