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The Best Advice I Never Got: We Will Always Want O...

The Best Advice I Never Got: We Will Always Want Our Parents

Lee Aldrich MiddlesageThis is a difficult time of year for me. Two years ago my dad, “your wonderful, wonderful father” as he referred to himself, was in an accident. It had been raining and a woman hydro-planed and crashed into him head on at 45 miles per hour. The next day I jumped on a plane and headed to Detroit for what was to become one of the most  heartbreaking, reflective and poignant weeks I’ve experienced.

TearWe watched as dad went through an unsuccessful surgery, collapsed lung, and damage to the to the nerves in his neck that left a sort of short circuit in some critical, involuntary functions. We were with all with him, telling him we were there and we loved him, as he took his last breath.

Prior to dad’s death, I spent 7 days sitting in his room in ICU with my iPad. I did  a bit of work, talked to dad (who was unconscious), prayed for a miracle, grasped at ANY sign of improvement, and kept the rest of the family up to speed on any changes while they were away from the hospital.

file8841261948414During those 7 days I talked to the ICU doctor. A lot. He himself was Iranian who had lived in Iraq until Saddam Hussein had deported his family and retained all their possessions. He talked of his family, of a brother that, for 18 years, they didn’t know what had happened to him until the invasion of Iraq when they were informed he had been killed. Of the brother who had pushed him into medicine, when he himself had wanted to do something else, because – as his brother told him – you would have a job and be able to work anywhere in the world.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHe talked of his mother who he hadn’t seen in years, until two months prior, when he went to her because she was ill. He talked about being with his mother when she died. I tried to calm the lump in my throat as he talked about the love and comfort his mother had given him as a child, that he was able to give back to her being at her side as she died.

His own grief was so new and still so raw, but his sharing was preparing me to decide things that needed to be decided. I could see in his grief that I was headed to a similar place where I just didn’t want to go. I did not want to go where he was: to feel what he was feeling, to grieve for a love lost, to say goodbye forever to a parent.

We were each on a different side of the fence in regard to death and dying…he was dealing with death, and I was dealing with dying. We shared two different experiences that transcended time, country of birth, age differences. The experience of losing a parent cuts to the core of human existence and family bonds.

file7911277667937For most of us, parents represent safety and stability. They are our go-to people for answers, to be a sounding board, recipes, and a soft shoulder when we need one. In our adult lives they have become our friends and frequently our confidants. With one profoundly simple statement, the ICU doctor summed it up:  “No matter how old we are, we will always want our parents.”

In the last two years I’ve thought about that wonderful doctor, the stories he shared with me, and his simple statement of fact that is now my reality. My dad is gone but I talk to him regularly. My mom is in Michigan and I should talk to her more. I want her for the family history she knows, the great recipes she carries in her head, the serene look she gets on her face when holding my new nephew Henry while working her “baby file2801302980272whisperer” charms on him, for her voice of reason when I call with an issue, for the inferred belief that we are safe and loved and whole.

What we need and want our parents for changes as we age. I wish somebody would have explained that even as adults we always want mom and dad in a way that is still child-like…we need them to help make us feel the world is a safer place and we have a soft place to fall. It is the words of a very wise man, said to me two years ago, that made me realize in many ways we are all still 5 years old.

“No matter how old we are, we will always want our parents.”

That is gospel.

How has your relationship changed with your parents? What do you think about the pearl of wisdom the doctor imparted? Do you still have your parents? Let us know….we’d love to hear YOUR story.



  1. Pam Houghton

    24 October

    I just really enjoyed that. You and Barbara write such good stuff. Always with so much insight, sensitively done. About my own parents – they were divorced, there were difficulties, but I still feel they had the best of intentions for me. So I guess thinking back to that – having that thought process – is comforting.
    Pam Houghton recently posted…Six social media marketing tips. And more. From the expert, Pam.My Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      24 October

      Pam – thank you so much for reading what we write and for your gracious comments. We all come from so many different places when it comes to parents: different relationships, different memories, different up-bringing. Regardless, they are our first memories – good or bad – and what help shape us. Have a good afternoon!

  2. Bouncin Barb

    24 October

    I lost my Dad 16 years ago. My Mom is 88 and we don’t have a wonderful relationship but she is my Mother and I love her. I am grateful to still have her, knowing that her time is limited. That said, I think it’s time to make a call. She lives in NJ, I’m in FL. Time is precious isn’t it? This was a great post even though touching upon sadness, death and dying. We do have to deal with it.
    Bouncin Barb recently posted…Beach TreasuresMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      24 October

      Barb – Time IS precious. It’s amazing how when it comes to our parents they can reduce us to felling 5 all over again – be it for a good or bad reason. Death and grieving is part of life ’cause you can’t know happiness if you’ve never felt sadness. Thank you for your comments. Have a lovely afternoon!

  3. I absolutely couldn’t agree more. That IS truth. Thank you for sharing your story, as I’m sure it is hard to relive those precious last moments with your father. How blessed and assured I’m sure he was, knowing that his daughter was right by his side during those last days.

    I am fearful, although I know I shouldn’t be, of the moments when my parents pass, and the heartache I will have when they are gone.
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    • Lee Aldrich

      28 October

      Jenna – I understand the fear since no matter what age they are, our parents are usually the rock solid stability that grounds us. After the death of a parent I think we kind of flounder trying to make sense of the death and in trying to redefine ourselves. There’s no way around the heartache, but you can’t know happiness without sorrow. Thank you for your comments and taking the time to read the post.

  4. Charlotte

    26 October

    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss 🙁 So very sorry. I’m sure the emotions are still so very raw, and it’s always hard around an anniversary. In a way though, it must have been an incredible experience to share your feelings/emotions with someone who understood what you were experiencing because he had just lived through it.

    It helps to get it out there as often as you can and I thank you for sharing your story with us today. Stopping in from SITS and wishing you so much healing. XOXO
    Charlotte recently posted…unsolicited good intentionsMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      28 October

      Thank you for your condolences and healing wishes. Losing somebody you’re close to is kind of like have an appendage cut off..it was there yesterday, you presume it will always be there, you learn to function without it no matter how hard that is. That Doc was an incredible person with loads of honesty and empathy built right in – he was a God-send. Thank you for stopping by to read. I’ll be stopping by your most recent post. Have a good week!

  5. Jen

    28 October

    What a heart-wrenching, beautiful post. I love both the themes you touched on ~ the primary theme of always wanting your parents is so spot-on….sometimes, when things are really rough, I just want my Mama. You mentioned another theme, just briefly, this one about returning the comfort and kindness our parents always gave us. I think this is the truest, purest example of the cyclic nature of love – what we give will always come back to us in one form or another, and when you are treated with love and kindness, you’re all too eager to return the favor.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Thank you for sharing your touching story.
    Jen recently posted…So Your Man Wants to Drive a Bread TruckMy Profile

    • Lee Aldrich

      30 October

      Jen – I was fortunate to have had so many years with my dad. In our family when we get together – normally gathered at the bar during a holiday – we reminisce about those who are no longer with us telling stories, poking fun at them (as we would have done while they were alive), and reliving great memories. Thank you so much for your generous and kind comments.

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