I don't feel good mommy. Please make me some tea and toast and when I have finished that will you tuck me into bed? As you always do, put the palm of your hand on my forehead to see if I have a fever and say, "Cool as a cucumber."
Tell me that I do not have to go to school tomorrow and since I feel so "poopy" that I do not have to do my homework tonight. Later make me a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of tomato soup which you know are my favorite comfort foods. Kiss me and tell me you love me.
Dad, I am sorry to say, I do not know where you are through all of this. I know you worked hard yesterday climbing ladders and taking risks as you worked with electricity in run down buildings that smelled of rat shit. I know that you tried to teach me to wire a broken lamp but I lost interest and that upset you.
I see you sleeping on the couch after dinner, listen to you and mom bicker through dinner, watch you shave before you go to bed, but I don't remember kissing you good night, or you me. I see you getting up early, worried about what the day's work would bring, and taking a last minute thirty minute nap, again on the sofa, before leaving for the "shop" to get your supplies loaded into the company truck.
Mom, when you were at hospice dying, I called and I asked you if there was anything we needed to talk about. You said, "Nothing except that I love you!"
Dad when you were at the hospital dying, I called and told you "I love you." You said, "OK," and hung up.
What makes a mother a mother? What makes a father a father? For that matter, what makes a person a person? I grieve that I never really got to know who either of you were behind the "Parent Mask." I grieve that I could not hold you in my arms during those final moments and kiss your face. I grieve that I am soon to be celebrating my 70th birthday and then soon, I too will be gone.