Now & Then

They don’t get older anymore. They just get old.

60 candles. Big party. Glasses tinkling. Family and friends chatting and singing “Happy birthday”. Sound of paper being unwrapped. Wishes. Plans for the next decade. Retirement. No constraints. Me leaving home and no longer being a pain in the ass. My room turned into a walk-in closet. Space. Freedom. Time for doing whatever the hell they wanted to do: sleep late, travel the world, take care of themselves, cook, do some volunteer work. Anything.

That was 10 years ago. What happened since then? Nothing. Nothing as planned.

Dad’s still running his business. 5am-11pm, 6 days a week. Workaholic. So much for “quality time” with the family… What about Sunday, then? Church in the morning. Praying for obscure things: past, present, future. Sins. Forgiveness. Hopes. Miracles. Praying for himself, maybe. He was diagnosed with a rare disease last year and he’s worried. We all are. In case medicine is not enough, God might as well help clear out the shadow. At least that’s one path worth exploring.

I’m an atheist. I believe hope is not a God thing. Neither is faith. It’s so very human. But that’s worth exploring too, right?

My mom. Tired. Probably the worst 10 years of her life. Low self-esteem. Sadness. Fear. And an unexpected strength nonetheless. That’s what you get when you marry the wrong person. Or when you always let other people come first. Is she getting better? I guess. I’m not there so how could I know? I’m not supposed to ask questions. Not this kind of questions anyway. I’m the daughter.

And, of course, there’s everything else. Turning 70. Both of them. Time taking over their bodies. Hearing, sight, mobility. Days go by, so does the flesh. Things get beyond control. Skins peel off, organs wear out, and all that ensues: taking smaller steps, slowing down the pace as life shortens. Till souls surrender.

When did they become old? Is it a matter of years? Health? State of mind?

Hint: None.

They got old when they stopped looking for happiness.  A long time ago.

Me? I think I’m getting younger.