Being the Only Parent

I’m like 60. I wonder how many more days I’ll make it through. I actually had to buy arch supports for my shoes today. Sentences like “I’m on my feet all day” and “My goddamn feet are killing me” and “Oh, my back” are suddenly applicable suddenly frequent. And it’s even worse if my sciatica acts up, oy! But it started way before that. I remember when my dad left, I had been thinking about leaving my job at the time, but then had to keep it to try to make enough money to help support my mom. And now I’m moving far away from every person and place I’ve ever known. And she’s among the betrayed, the angry. I won’t have anyone left soon. But there was a guy at that job, an older guy who’d sort of drifted from job to job and never really found something that felt real, felt like him, and he could tell I was headed on the same path. So he would question me about my choices, make me think critically about what I wanted to do vs. what I needed to do. He became a listener, a much-needed advice-giver, a father figure from a time when I didn’t have a father. Someone who was looking out for me, in a way no one else ever has. But he doesn’t know that, and we had lunch today, sitting by the ocean, talking about the future and the past, and saying goodbye, I knew I’d never see him again. I could feel a tsunami of emotions welling up, so after he left I ran and bought some ice cream to keep myself from crying. And when that didn’t work I bought candy. This is what you do with children. This is what you do when you’re your own parent.