Black Buzzard

My mother’s companion of 28 years passed away last weekend, at the age of 79. He’d been in poor health for a long time, and the massive heart attack that killed him wasn’t wholly unexpected. And yet his death is still shocking, still startling in its lightning-strike finality.

Even before this, my mind had been often contemplating that final destination. Not so much for myself (I never worried about dying young until I had my daughter), but for my aging parents, both 80 years old; I knew that Death was waiting patiently by their sides.

He appeared maybe 10 or 15 years ago, when the realization hit me that my parents were (gasp!) getting old and would die someday. He was fuzzy at first, a shadow. Every day since then he’s been getting clearer, more defined. He’s like a black buzzard sitting on their shoulders.

Losing a parent at a young age has got to be shocking and traumatic. I don’t envy anyone in that position. I’ve been lucky to have my parents around for a long time (and still going fairly strong), and I’m grateful for that. But there’s something horrific about realizing your parents mortality, of suddenly seeing that shadow looming over them forevermore. You find yourself waiting for him to strike-will it be today? Tomorrow? Next year? In a decade? It’s a slow dread.

We laugh and live in spite of him, ignore him as best we can. Flip him off now and then. But he’s immovable. He’s like one of those British soldiers guarding the Queen’s palace. He won’t move a muscle until it’s time to move. You can do your best to distract him, lure him away, do a little dance to make him crack a smile. You feel a little foolish in the attempt, but what else can you do? That stare is unnerving.

So while I mourn my stepfather’s passing, while that black buzzard makes his claim on those that I love, I have to remember to keep on dancing.



6 thoughts on “Black Buzzard

  1. Wow.

    It would have been my maternal grandmother’s 100th birthday today. She died three years ago and my 68-year-old mother misses her a lot.

    No matter what age, it’s a powerful realization coupled with a powerful loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tina, my sympathies to you and your family. The sudden loss, even when you see the person declining in health before your eyes is difficult. I agree with you that we somehow lock our parents in at a certain age in our minds until one day they are suddenly old right before our eyes. It’s a weird phenomenon and it’s not like we see them when we are a tiny child. For me, I don’t know, I always thought of my parents kind of in perhaps in their late 30s/early 40s. An age where they had started greying a bit but were still full of life. I lost my Dad 3 1/2 years ago and my Mom has definitely slowed down but you still have to have to cherish the time you have and then when you do lose them you have to honor them by taking the best of what they offered you and do the same for you child.

    Being a parent changes everything in your life including with how we must handle grief. Take care of yourself my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

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