Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Death in the Family

Blogging's been a little sparse in these here parts for some time as Luther struggles with "progressive" attitudes at his place of employment while Wonker continues trying to evolve a strategy to create some much needed black ink at his.

But Wonk's putting issues aside this week and heading to Ohio (which we hope is still somewhere on the map after all those foreclosures) to deal with the final rites for his dad, who passed away a couple days ago after a long struggle with Alzheimer's. As with all such cases, this is a bittersweet moment, since dad actually left us a long time ago, in the sense that he no longer had a clue as to who we were. Nonetheless, you could see him early on still struggling to stay on this planet, mentally, as more and more pieces of info began to depart forever and his life lost its moorings.

Having lost mom last Christmas, this time after her own long fight with multiple sclerosis--which she managed to survive until she was an astonishing 85 years of age--well, that probably sent what was left of dad's memory into deep space, as often happens when a longtime life partner (in this case, almost 60 years) departs. As we gathered after the service to pick up the pieces, Dad started hitting on Mrs. Wonker, which was actually pretty funny, since he'd cordially despised her when Wonk was a'courtin many moons ago. That was sure a sign.

It's been a tough 3 years or so with all this going on. As more and more Boomers are finding out, longer lives aren't always the blessing you think they're going to be. Care for ailing parents, an ailing spouse, or both, is expensive, tough, and time consuming, and it forces a lot of compromises and changes to deal with it--in Wonk's case, the termination of several longtime efforts in the literary field which had meant a lot and were actually starting to make some headway. But family, ultimately, is more important than anything, since it's all you've got on this plane of existence, and they're the only people who likely won't desert you when you're up against it. So you gather round the flag and do your best. After all, for all the family sturm und drang, that's what the parental units always did for you.

Now the curtain has fallen on Act II, as our own Greatest Generation Wonkers proceed to their eternal reward, that mysterious light in the distance where you know there's a better world and where all is well. Which, emotionally, is passing strange to think about on a personal level--as the oldest kid, Wonk is now the next dude up at the exit gate. Gives you the willies when you think about it long enough.

So it's up to Ohio for a few days to close one chapter and open a new one in the never-ending pageant of life, which is still a pretty good cliché for describing how things seem to work. I'll see you when I return. In the meantime, by all means, enjoy the long weekend.

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