I have experienced quite a bit of loss in my life already. Neither my husband nor I have any living parents or grandparents. We are orphans. (which kind of makes me smile in some ways and grieve in others). My children do not know what it is like to have grandparents, my mother died when my oldest was just 11 months old. My father died just over a year later, I was pregnant with my youngest son. My husband's mother died before I even met my husband, so I never knew her, and his father died when my boys were so young that they don't remember him now, and they had only seen him a couple of times. So really my sons just don't know what it is like to have grandparents or really extended family, as we live so far away from our families.
Five or six years ago a friend experienced the loss of a family member (grandparent), and we were talking and she was saying how it must be difficult for the children of someone who dies, as those children must have a sense that they are next. Meaning that in the scheme of life, in the fundamental sense, the elders cross over first. And when all your elders are gone, you are next. I had not thought of things that way before. And I just laughed and said something like "well thanks I guess that means I am next in line to die".
I think about that often, thanks Julie. I do think about getting older, but really have no point of reference, I have no intimate experience with aging. My mother died in a car accident when she was 60, still youthful very active. My father killed himself one year and five months later, as he could not live without my mom, he was 56 at that time. Those would be the people from whom you learn about aging, as you see them intimately, see how they live and age from day to day, share your innermost thoughts and feeling with, in many instances caring for them, caring about them or visiting with them. These are the people you have shared your life with from day one. So I think my ideas on aging are warped sort of. I don't have that. My parents died so suddenly, neither of them died of "natural causes" (that phrase has always bothered me but that is for another post). Neither of them were elderly, both were still working, and traveling.
Most of my friends have both parents still living, and many have grandparents still living. Many will get to see that aging process on an intimate level and experience the death of a parent in a more natural way. I will have to live it, and am working to create my own image of aging, in my mind and in my reality. Working to make this such a positive journey as it comes, whatever comes my way. Creating this for myself. I am working hard to not fear the unknown, and it is exciting to be making it up as I go along. With no preconceived ideas of what growing older looks like in my immediate family past the age of 60, I do feel free. Free to imagine the most wonderful experience ever. Granted I am only 48 now, I was 29 when my mother crossed over and 30 when my father crossed, we never know how far this life will take us (that is a lesson I have learned) but in my mind it will be a most spectacular journey.