Thursday, September 15, 2016

"Do you know what Dad did?"

We've talked about transitions this month. Transitions in our writing careers. Transitions in manuscripts. A different kind of transition has been keeping me up at night--transitions in families. Perhaps it isn't surprising. After all, "family" is a central theme in my stories for a reason. 

These days, my sleepless nights begin with a call from my brother: "Do you know what Dad did this time?" 

Aging is weird enough in this country. Didn't the Baby Boomers firmly establish that they would never get old? Oh wait, that's a different story. This one is called, Your Parents Are Getting Old.




Now we've all heard about the hip grandpa who programs his TV and house security with his smartphone. Mine routinely calls AOL (from his landline since he forgets to charge his cell) and asks them for his password. One of my neighbors (my husband and I want to be Holly when we grow up) not only plays a great game of golf, he took up roping calves at age 80. At 82, he competes on the rodeo circuit. Instead of tying cattle with ropes, my dad is tethered to an oxygen generator. 

Life is a roll of the dice, right? Genetics, life style, accidents, wrong place/wrong time. No way to know what we'll be like when we reach our 80s. So my approach to the single remaining member of my personal "great generation" is hugs and love you's. 

Those two expressions make us feel valued. They nurture our souls, offering emotional and physical well being for both the giver and the recipient. Think about how often you shared them with your children, your friends and your spouse. Unfortunately (hmm, another transition?) the frequency seems to lessen with age. While you may be thinking about a jerk of an ex right now, I remember after my mother-in-law died, how my father-in-law craved touch. A simple pat on the arm, a hug. I see you. You aren't alone. 

This weekend, instead of heading to New Orleans for Bouchercon, the mystery/suspense conference, I'm bound for my hometown. I'll sit with my father for what I suspect may be the last time. To give him a hug and say not just "I love you," but also, "Tell Mama I still love and miss her, when you see her in heaven."

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Cathy Perkins started writing when recurring characters and dialogue populated her day job commuting daydreams. Fortunately, that first novel lives under the bed, but she was hooked on the joy of creating stories. When not writing, she can be found doing battle with the beavers over the pond height or setting off on another travel adventure. Born and raised in South Carolina, she now lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

Catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter.

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