During the last two and a half weeks I’ve stayed with my parents in Mission Viejo, California as I’ve taken a five week leave from my beloved India. My parents were married in November 1953 three years before I was born. Some simple multiplication means that they’ve spent almost 21,000 days together or 504,000 hours or 31,000,000 minutes, give or take a little. These are remarkable numbers, especially for the US where on average, about 40-50% of first marriages end in divorce. One might say that my parents are of a different generation but never-the-less through “thick and thin” they have remained companions.
I’ve seen them at their worse, when their arguments are so irrational, that I wonder what has kept them together for this many years. But I’ve also seen them at their best and now that they are almost 82 and 78, their love and caring for one another is something that carries them through life on a daily basis. I still see many of the same things that I did when I was younger, maybe those things never change. Now that I’m older and hadn’t seen them for two years, these things are viewed from a much different perspective.
My mother has not weathered the years well and although she maintains a zest for life her body is not in the best of shape. She might say that a lifetime of hardship has caused this. My mother uses a walker, has diabetes and eats too much junk. She has trouble getting in and out of the car but she does try to exercise in the pool and keeps her mind active through her gardening, book club and bridge interests.
My father, on the other hand, remains slimmer and also involves himself with numerous activities including an annual chalk festival to raise funds for school arts programs, fundraising for Mission Viejo Chabad House, book club and bridge. He also exercises in the pool.
The thing that I notice now is that my father takes more care of my mother. He walks with her, helps more with preparing meals, drives her to certain events and generally is available. My mother does what she can, but seems to be much more dependent on my father.
This companionship lasting more than 57 years seems to be complete. It has weathered the ups and downs that life brings, more so, than many relationships. Even as we’ve all changed, we’ve remained somewhat the same, somewhere lost in time. No matter how far way I might be, when I come back I am their son and I get to see the best and worst of my parents. No matter which world I’m in, I see this incredible companionship lasting more than 57 years, a lifetime. This is one thing that will always be part of me, my heritage.
My parents are truly amazing and I love them more than ever. It is difficult to see one’s once vibrant parents turn to older age. They are slower and their physical appearance is different. But even with all of those changes they remain my parents and this picture of them being together, helping each other will always remain a positive in my life.