Tuesday, July 10, 2012



It’s hard for most of us to say goodbye, especially when knowing we won’t see family or friends for a while, whether days or weeks or months. Toward the end of my father’s life his eyes filled with tears when my visits ended and I headed back to Chicago with my children, his grandchildren. He probably thought he was saying goodbye for the last time for a couple of years before he died, for he had had a series of heart attacks which grew more severe with each event.

When you’re young it doesn’t usually occur to you that, given life’s vicissitudes, you might never meet again. Saying goodbye is little more traumatic than turning off the TV. In fact, as we become more mobile, partings become commonplace. And maybe we get better with practice.

Perhaps it’s my age that makes parting teary-eyed, not that I think every goodbye is the last one. But visits with my sons remind me of how little I now have them in my life. Time passes and they have families, careers, and homes, and we’re no longer in daily touch. While I’m away from them, living my own life, I don’t notice this so much. Then we visit. And invariably we have a great time together. But then I leave or they leave, and I’m painfully aware that time will pass while we’re living our separate lives.

I’d just as soon skip saying goodbye. In fact, I’d prefer to sneak out in the middle of the night without waking anybody. If I can just close that door and go back to my routine, I won’t have to think so much. On the other hand, if one of them left without saying goodbye, I’d wonder if I’d offended him. Is there no easy way to say goodbye? 

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