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Variations on a Gene Theme

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Part five of my 6-to 60 blog series on aging and wellbeing. If you missed the past four posts click on the link and you can find them listed.

 

The journey to sixty is fast approaching; ironic to me is that the last part of the journey culminates with two important dates, our Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day. These milestones bring plenty of memories to the surface.

 

One facet of the aging process is how much we are and we aren’t like our Moms. In my case I’m physically a mini-version of our Mom, same size, face and much of her personality. I’ve always taken that as a huge compliment.

 

As I’ve gotten older I see more and more traits in myself that she displayed. We share a obsession with our morning coffee ritual, a love for reading books, magazines and newspapers, passion for dinner parties, basketball games and social events, excitement for travel and a very strong commitment to dear friends.

 

I also acquired Sondra’s (our Mom) appreciation for wanting to have your own unique style. Not necessarily in a fashion-obsessed way but truly of your own. Having grown up in a small town in the Midwest in a middle class family I thought our Mom had impeccable taste.

 

As a child she made a lot of my clothing, mostly to save money but it was definitely her creative outlet. I grew up thinking that this was normal, a Mom who could design and construct just about anything, including interior design. Sadly I’m a disaster at this endeavor.

 

There is one thing our Mom and I do not share, depression. I’ve contemplated this over the years but maybe more as I’ve aged. The complexities of depression are way beyond my scope and knowledge base. I can only speak from experience in close relationships with friends and a Mom who dealt with its’ challenges.

 

In our case, first and foremost it was a different era. Many of the baby boomer generation parents grew up in a time when the wife primarily was the person staying at home with the children, as in ours. The female roles were often seen as secondary to the husband, not always but generally speaking. This structure did not often allow for their own unique talents to rise, thus our Mom used her sewing and design efforts as a refuge.

 

This era was not very accepting, especially in a small town of how to deal with depression. Many individuals felt a need to hide their issues. Also I think growing up in the Midwest there exists (or in past times) a mentality of “pick yourself up” and “shake it off” spirit that is an enormous hurdle for individuals who see a darker side.

 

Certainly most of us as children imagine our parents can fix everything, sort of super heroes. Then as we become adults we somehow aspire to “fix” our parents as they age. We all know this is just not the way life is; it’s crueler, more complex and a never-ending give and take of experiences.

 

As you get older there will be times when you think about the “what ifs.” Could I have done something different? Is it in the gene pool? How did she manage to raise kids that don’t suffer? What if she had gotten more help?

 

Something I’ve learned and it’s for sure easier said than done is the “what ifs” don’t change anything. Learning not drowning from the past is part of moving forward. I also feel in our Mom’s spirit she did everything in her power to not have that wave come over her kids, my brother and I. In her words, “she gave us wings so we could fly.” That’s something to honor, respect and pay tribute to on a daily basis.

 

I think as a nation we still struggle with how to deal with depression. My own take is that we could do a better job about talking about it on every level. We need to deflate our obsession with each and every holiday so that those affected by depression are not constantly overwhelmed. Really at the end of the day it’s pretty simple; empathy, respect and sometimes just a hug go a long way.

 

 

To Sondra who taught her family and friends how to live life big!

 

 

 

 

 

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