Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Longevity


*

We met at a summer course, and  became friends despite the big age gap beteen us.  She was older and wiser than me, married to an english born gentleman, mother to two charming  teenagers .
A few years later, I left town, and that was it;  we completely lost touch.

 In  March of this year (the month is significant to the story), I happened to be in her neighborhood, and I noticed that their modest  one level house had been replaced by an elegant 2-storey building. I stood near the gate for a while not knowing what to do with myself as I felt the need to talk to somebody. Luckily, a woman came out of the building. I approached her , introduced myself , told her that  many years ago, I knew the owners of the place, and  added that I would appreciate if she could give me some information.

She seemed reluctant to talk to me; however, she uttered three short but valuable sentences. She said : 'she had never met the old couple'; 'she believed they were not alive at the time of the house's sale'; 'her family bought the house from the grandchildren' .
I thanked her and went away.

Back home, I googled the city cemetery list to find out age and date of death. The wife, 85 years old, died in March 2011; the husband, 90, a month later. Well then, I said to myself: they had reached a respectable age... and was about to light candles in their memory.

Something was bothering me, though. The woman said her family had bought the house from the grandchildren; What about the two children, where were they? I decided to 'dig' things further. Browsing, I came upon a family tree, and....deep, uncontrollable, sadness overcame me. Both children were gone long before the parents: the daughter at 32, the son at 41.   Instead of two candles, I lighted four.(We're  celebrating Hannuka feast this week, and I'm lighting candles , so this has brought back to me the sad memory).

That's the  horrific side of longevity; parents might get predeceased by one or more of their children. In our society, it happens quite often as life expectancy has increased during the last decades, but so has the number of accidents and diseases that kill the young ones. It has happened in my family too.

I suppose  what has kept the above mentioned couple alive for so many years after the two tragedies, are the grandchildren. 
However, I know that in some cases, bereaved  parents find no consolation  in grandchildren; in other cases  grandchildren find it hard to cope with this unnatural situation of parent(s) dead and grandparent(s) alive,  and estrange themselves from the latter. 

Tragic from any angle one looks at it.  Life is certainly not all wine and roses.

* web picture

31 comments:

  1. But you dont know what happened to the grandchildren? Or am I misreading this.

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    1. Well, grandchildren are probably OK. They've sold their inheritance (grandparents' house). It is their parents (whom I knew only as teenagers)that died an untimely death and predeceased their parents.

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  2. You're right about it happening more often. But it is oh, so sad. And yes, especially for the grandchildren. I'd say you are a fine researcher and I'm glad you found an answer to your questions, even if it's a sad one. I'm glad you lit the candles.

    Would it be inappropriate to say Happy Hanukkah after a sad post? Perhaps. But I will anyway -- and thank you for visiting my blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you know the faces, it's hard to accept things like death without questioning and trying to understand things.

      It's never inappropiate to say a blessing. Thank you.

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  3. Happy Hannuka feast for you.
    I agree with you: "Life is certainly not all wine and roses."

    May God bless you.

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    1. Thank you for the blessing.
      There was a movie entitled Days of Wine and Roses with great music composed by Henri Mancini, and this phrase 'wine and roses' is often used in various contests.

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  4. Sad....so very sad. It is not the normal...for children to predecease their parents. My mother passed away before her mother, my grandmother.

    I don't know how parents cope with losing a child...no matter the age of the child upon passing.

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    Replies
    1. So, you've experienced the double horror. You had lost your mother and she a daughter. Parents who lose their child are not actually coping.They're broken and that is not fixable.

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  5. Life is not dependable, all one can do is live for the day, and hopefully this is what those elderly couple did, maybe finding some joy and happiness with their grandchildren, which could never offset the deaths of their children but perhaps helped to heal the wound a little bit.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "..all one can do is live for the day.."- how very true! We're helpless about a lot of things, but we refuse to admit that.
      It's obvious that the grandchildren helped them move on with life.

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  6. It is probably the darkest thing for a parent to outlive their children or to die before seeing grandchildren born. I'm glad they at least had grandchildren and judging from the age when their parents died the grandchildren were very small when it happened, so I'm guessing the grandparents took part in their upbringing. Do you have grandchildren, Duta?
    My grandmothers and grandfathers all died within one single year, one after another, and then two year after my father too.

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    1. That's what I thought exactly. The grandchilren were small and the couple felt responsability and took part in their upbringing. That made their life more bearable.

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  7. It's a sad situation for sure when that happens, I can't imagine how the grandchildren feel. I'm curious about what happened to the couple's son and daughter since they were so young. You did very well with your research, Duta!

    Happy Hanukkah!

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    1. I'm curious too, but the woman was not talkative. I had the feeling she knew more details but was not willing to release them to a total stranger like me.
      Thanks for the blessing.

      Delete
  8. Maybe they left the property to the grandkids because of taxes or something, maybe a problem with the kids? Or maybe it was a gift? Some grandparents do that. Maybe it was not for a sad reason.

    Thanks for your comment on my post. I replied over there. As far as a spiritual problem, maybe hatred or unforgiveness could be considered a spiritual problem. Those things start small, but they grow fast.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sandy dear, the children were dead. Who do you want the old people to leave the house if not to the grandchildren?

      Thanks for replying to my comment on your post.

      Delete
    2. Sorry...realized after I'd posted that you had said they'd passed away.

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  9. This is sad. It is not the usual that children pre-decease their parents. You did well with your research.

    We do not know what lies ahead for each of us, it is so important to make the most of every day.

    Happy Hanukkah

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, not the usual. No, we don't know what lies ahead of us. We're helpless in so many ways,both as individuals and as communities, though we won't admit that.

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  10. Replies
    1. And what's strange, that it came back to me on the Hannuka holiday when we're supposed to rejoice, be happy, light candles and eat delicious bakes.

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  11. Replies
    1. 'Sad' is a mild word in this case. The truth is that no words could express the
      anguish felt in the face of such tragedy.

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  12. 🕯️ I would only breathe a prayer. And give you a digital hug.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Aritha, for both, the prayer and the hug.

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  13. I had an older friend named Katie, way older. She was a poet who memorized all her poems as she lost her eyesight. The man who delivered her eulogy at the funeral made a comment that has stuck with me and remains true in my mind. He said that whenever you tell a story or share a memory of the person you’ve lost, that person is once again alive in your mind. They are never out of reach. And so now I keep Katie’s memory alive by writing about her, as you’ve done here. Keeping our old friend or family members alive in our writings also brings healing over time.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. So very true!
      It's important to keep alive the memory of the departed both for his/her sake and for our own sake.

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  14. what some people have to bear in this life is horrific. there is no answer as to why, is there.
    you're a very caring person Duta, with a great capacity to empathise, both such beautiful qualities.

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    1. Only God has the answers.
      Thanks for your kind words, Sue.

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    2. Only God has the answers.
      Thanks for your kind words, Sue.

      Delete