My parents, at one time, owned a condo in Ocean City, MD, a trailer and a house in Hopewell, VA. They sold the condo not too long ago, and so found some relief in the sale, for it allowed them to pour some money into this house that they owned since about my sophomore year in college. They live in the trailer and my dad works on the house. They have juggled some ideas on what they will do next. First they were going to give the trailer to me, as it was paid for, provided I move home. Then, when I decided that I was staying, they thought to give it to a man as a gift (and likely a write off) and live in the house once it was completed. Then they were going to look into transporting the trailer to Ocean City, buy a lot and retire there. Then they wanted to sell the house once it was done, move to OC, buy a small house and retire. When they realized how expensive OC has gotten, they thought maybe a trailer there, and still sell the house. And my parents wonder where I get my indecision and frequent residence changes from.

At one point my mother mentioned retiring with regard to Social Security, and with the figure she quoted me on what they will get, it seemed more than enough to support them. My father, being such a fidgety man, would find a way to still work, do something. My parents are about 63, somewheres in there. I suppose it's long overdue.

I thought about the amount she quoted long after I hung up with her and it was hard not to clench my teeth. Everyone's been telling me that when we retire, there may not be any Social Security left. It's hard not to take this out on my mother, for even though it's not her fault, she's the closest one to me that I can blame. She's right there, on the other end of the phone.

Throughout my childhood, my parents have said, "I am glad I'm on my way out." It always seemed like they were saying this to me, making sure I'm in the room when they said it, or maybe it was in response to something on the news, some additional troubling indication that the times were changing and they were forever out of the race. Thing is, they never wanted to be in the race. They didn't seem to care, and while they were content to stay in the world they had created from behind the TV wall of altered reality, they never really seemed content.

My dad always said he didn't like how Mass was done now. When he was a boy, they read the Mass in Latin. Even when the people turned to one another, shook hands, and said, "Peace be with you", my dad stiffened. He seldom went to church when I was growing up, yet I was subjected to CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) for all 12 years of my private school existence, being thrust in a room every Sunday morning with nothing but public school kids who were normal, while I was some social mistake. Now, my parents go to church regularly. They seem to be making up for something.

I remember, in 1989, my parents came home with a new car, a brand new Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra. They didn't tell me we were getting a new car; it was just a big surprise. By that time I was used to such surprises. We moved at least every 3 years, the Christmas trees slowly finding the right corner every 3rd year in a new place, the ornaments getting older and older in their soft paper boxes. They still have that car now, and it still runs really well for its age. They will never own another car, I don't think. They will never own a set of years like they did before I was born, and it's starting to show.

It's not like they have lost some speculative glimmer in their eyes or move any slower or more painfully than before. They just seem like living ghosts, haunting me before their time, as though Jacob Marley, with his rattling chains and coin boxes, began haunting Ebeneezer in Easter instead of Christmas, so that the point of the message is lost in spring instead of winter, where it could post some purpose.

The first time my mother said the word "condom" was when I was about to leave for college. When I hit puberty, she bought me a book. When I found one of my father's condoms in her purse, she called it his "medication" as though I was so innocent and naive. It is hard to see the good stuff, but it is there; I'm just not looking hard enough. And I sit there wondering if there are any lessons at all I can learn from them as they sift through my past because to them my future is not clear enough for either of us to see. Like me, they wait to see what I will become, and I guess I am waiting for the same, to see what they will become, if they will become more when they are gone.




althorrat says It might behoove you to mention in a footnote or something that the title of this node comes from an episode of Futurama.

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