posted by Matt W on December 12th, 2012

As a middle-aged man there are daily reminders that I’m getting a little older. Reminders like, kids no longer in the house, waking up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the restroom, and the twinge in my back as I warm up for a round of golf. The biggest reminder that I’m aging however is the aging of my parents and their friends that is taking place before my eyes.

Whenever I visit my mother-in-law, one of the things I always notice is that she reads the obituaries every day. Since I am usually still on East coast time when visiting her on the West coast, I typically have time to go out and get a round of Starbucks drinks and donuts before everyone wakes up. My mother-in-law will come out of her room, sit down with her grande, skinny, extra hot, sugar-free vanilla latte and open up the paper. On a good morning, she closes the paper in a few minutes and gets on with her day. More often than not however, there is the telltale, “Oh, that’s too bad.” This is usually followed up with a, “Well she lived a good life,” or an “I didn’t even know he was ill.” She puts the name on a list and usually sends out a card, or looks to see when the funeral is taking place if it was a close friend. This is now a daily part of her life. But somehow this makes me feel older.

Well, the other day, I called my father and asked what he was doing. “I’m buying myself a burial plot” was his slow reply. My father talks with the same cadence and urgency of Eeyore, only an octave lower. Its rumbling nature always reminds me of something seismic. My father is definitely aging at a more rapid pace (Parkinsons) than some of his friends, but I’m sure it is the recent death of a very close friend that has him at the cemetery. “Yeah, Mom has had a plot for years, but I never got around to getting one.” “That sounds like a good idea to get your plots together,” is my rumbling, almost dad-like reply. We don’t say anything for a few moments. He then says “My plot is $10,000. Guess how much your mother’s was?” Not totally playing along yet, I ask, “Well, when did she buy hers?” “Grandma bought Mom’s for her in 1940 for $25. So I guess we got both for $10,025. So that’s not too bad.” He replies, answering his own question. “Wow, only 400 times more expensive than Mom’s,” I reply.  “Yeah. Talk about inflation,” is his gravely response. He says he’s got to go and sign some papers and a “click” closes our conversation.

For the most part, I don’t feel that old. Like I said there are little reminders, like playing basketball with my high school buddies or helping my youngest child learn to drive, that tell me that I’m not in my 20’s or even 30’s anymore. But the mortality of the generation in front of us is about the only thing that gets me thinking about my own personal mortality.

So my suggestion for tonight is to do something to feel young. Go home and have mindless sex with your significant other, break open a nice bottle of wine and have a laugh, or go for a nice run to get the blood pumping. Later, give someone in the previous generation a call to see how they’re doing. And if you haven’t already purchased a cemetery plot… you might want to start coming to terms with cremation.

File Under Jack of all Trades