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Sunday, May 11, 2014

An awkward feeling

2014 is the first year that all four of my father, mother, father-in-law, and mother-in-law are deceased. For that reason, today's Mothers Day has an odd, unfamiliar aspect. My sons will express their love to Gail, and in a month's time Fathers Day will come around. But there will be no corresponding tangible or even verbal gesture of gratitude and affection to my parents or Gail's parents. Memories and prayers will have to do.

Compounding the novelty is that Gail and I are first-borns. (It's true that first-borns tend to marry other first-borns.) Because of distances I see Gail's family more often than mine, and at those events I am now the oldest present. I knew intellectually that being the oldest in her group would eventually happen, although the episode of prostate cancer did cast some doubt on it for a while. But I remain unaccustomed to it, and I don't know how long the unfamiliarity will persist.

I believe in some kind of continuity of life beyond death, although I suspect that our notions of an "afterlife", shaped by scriptures of various religions and myths, are hopelessly inaccurate in many respects. Essentially it would have to be an existence unimaginable and inexplicable in terms of earthly specifics. The witty film Defending Your Life made the point in 1991. Therefore perhaps it is sheer romanticism, or delusion, to say that there is anything remotely like Mothers Day in heaven. I content myself with the certainty that Grace and Helen knew they were loved on earth -- and with the belief that somehow the same love carries forward with them.