When Parents Age
I didn’t know that I had old parents until about second grade. My dad picked me up early from school. He came in the school office and some of the kids yelled, “your grandpa is here.” They laughed and ran off. I was mad and embarrassed. Fact, my father is one of the most well dressed Pastors on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday, he looks homeless. That fact, never helped! During the 80’s the Jheri curl was all the rave. My entire family had curls. We were like the Soul Glo family from Coming To America. Here was the problem, my dad had gone bald in the middle, and only had hair around the sides. I used to call it the Bozo the Clown cut. Y’all, he used to go to the salon and get that mess done. Fact #2 that didn’t help!
(Baby Jaz & Dad Circa 1984)
My mother a bit younger than my dad was still older when she had me. My mom was always fly, cute, and sassy, not saying pops wasn’t handsome, but remember that homeless look piece? I digress.
My oldest sister and I are 19 years apart, my brother and I, 16 years, and my other sister, 9 years apart. Now y’all tell me what that looks like? If it looks like an oops, sounds like an oops, smells like an oops, it’s an oops. I used to joke with both my parents and I’d ask them to just admit that I was their oops, or late life love child. Of course my mother always said I was planned.
(Mom & Dad in the 70’s)
Growing up, their age caused embarrassment. After that incident at school, I used run out of class to get to the car before the mean children would come out teasing.
It wasn’t until I became an adult that I began to appreciate having older parents. I used to sit for hours and listen stories my father would share about the racist south and his experiences. How he escaped the draft because the man who owned him wouldn’t allow him to go. How his mother would pull him along on a burlap sack as a small boy while she picked cotton. Or how as a small boy, he and his brother ran into the woods while a group of white men castrated his grandfather for being on the wrong side of the tracks after hours.
The stories shared by my mulatto mother were a bit different, but just as powerful. Being chased by dogs on the way to school for being black. Being hated by the black kids for being too light with “good” hair. Her experience of culture shock moving to California from the segregated south and going to an integrated school in the 50’s, and being teased for being different.
My friends with young parents didn’t have the gift of these stories.
Today the aging looks a bit different. My father, now in his 80’s has difficulty getting around. I sit and watch as he struggles to climb stairs.
One – step – at – a – time.
His once quick walk is now a shuffle which requires a cane. I can see the frustration when his body won’t do what his mind wants it to. Inspite of all of that, I see a man who still preaches Sunday after Sunday. A man who cooks everyday. A man who still shares the greatest stories. One of the greatest comedians ever. A man who beat the odds by surviving six aortic aneurysms.
My mother still fly, now struggles to remember. Her once sharp mind is now one of the greatest sources of frustration certain days. Some days her knees cause her pain which require flats instead of her usual heels. Through all of that I see a woman who can quote a scripture for any occasion without a second thought. Who still has the ability to wear a leopard print pants suit and make it fly. A Nana who still spoils her grandkids. A woman who survived the loss of her mother, father, only brother, and only sister in a five year span and never stopped smiling. My mother’s favorite saying, “God preserves those who serve him.”
To my parents, I promise to always listen and support you through this aging process. To be patient. To run errands when you can’t. To accompany you on trips to the doctor and to be your advocate. To love you the way you’ve loved me.
(Mom and dad current)
“Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Job 12:12
Until next time…❤️