Friday, September 30, 2011

Old Age is Everywhere

Man, I'm Old.  This past weekend, I flew home to NC for my 20th (yes, 20th) class reunion.

Except for the people I want to see, many of my classmates I quite literally haven't seen since graduation day back in 1991.  That all changed this past weekend.

I hadn't been to a previous reunion at all, so I was curious to see how this would all go down:  what would people look like? Answer:  half look exactly the same, half I didn't recognize.  Would everyone still be just as stupid (myself included...) as we were in high school? Answer:  thankfully, no.  Would people stare at my husband and say 'you talk funny'? Answer:  thankfully, no.  Rather, people were really sweet about his accent.  Would this be one of the lamest things I could be dong on a Saturday night-and regret every painful moment of it? Answer:  thankfully, no.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend.  No, I don't really have much in common with some of my classmates who, aside from college have remained in Hickory, North Carolina their entire lives.  No, I really don't have anything in common with my classmates who have two or three or five and who looked at the Saturday night event as their one evening out all month.  But, it was great fun to go back and just see how people were doing.  You can't have spent the first 18 years of your life with folks and not wonder how they eventually turned out!

On the flip side of this, as I was in my hometown for the reunion, we stayed with my dad-as we always do when we go to NC.  I had not been 'home' in over 18 months.  I've seen my father at other random locations (Charlotte, when we were passing thru on our way to Las Vegas.  Portland for my wedding), but I haven't seen the house in over 18 months until this past weekend.  
I've been very aware for year of the progressing age of my father (he recently turned 74) for some time, but as he's in relatively good health, have probably been mentally postponing what I know is going to be an eventual reality.
The time I was at home this weekend however, made me realize that he is officially approaching the 'old person' status and adopting all of the odd behaviors that old people adopt:  stockpiling random things (Really Dad.  Do you need the beach hotel pricing guide from 2003?  When you also have the 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 issues?....and you've stayed at the same hotel for the past 15 years?), not cleaning the house as thoroughly as it should be cleaned, and just generally picking up some personality quirks that you only typically see in 'old folks.'   It's got me a bit concerned-and has really made me start thinking about how much longer I can continue to live in London  which is a good 8.5 hours away by plane-never mind the simple reality that when living this far away, I'll do good to get to NC once a year.

Can I continue to live in London guilt-free as my father ages, or is it time to put family first and think about moving back to the US and make seeing my dad more frequently a priority?  I knew the time would come when I would have to start thinking about this very issue.  I just thought I'd have a few more years.  Perhaps I'm overreacting a bit, but my mother passed away 16 years ago, and I'm an only child.  My Dad's girlfriend is 80. I am his support network.

This life.  These are the types of decisions we're all faced with all the time.  I just don't think I'm quite ready to deal with the ramifications of a)making this decision and b)acknowledging what making this decision could mean.

Would it be so much to ask for things to go back to the way they were in High School when we were all younger-and maybe postpone the reality of this situation for another 20 years?

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