Daze of My Life: I'm All Grown Up

Daze of My Life
I'm All Grown Up

Forty-one years ago, on Oct. 21, 1967, I was Bar Mitvah'd and became a man, or so the Jewish tradition claims. Five weeks ago, on Dec. 6th, 2008, when my mother, Celia Blacker Lourie died, one day after her 86th birthday, my manhood became official. Up until her death, nearly two years to the day of my father's death, I was still my parent's son. Now, with my mother's passing, I am no longer any body's son. I am still a brother, still a husband (unfortunately not a father, though), still a cousin, still an uncle, etc., but most definitely, I am not a son. And given the finality and reality of being an orphan (as I have been characterized by a number of family and friends since my widowed mother died), whatever delusions I had concerning my familial future, specifically relating to my mother's life expectancy, are officially over. I am not exactly on my own, but neither am I on my parent's own, anymore.
Luckily for me, it's been a long trip, only parts of which (the insignificant parts) have been strange. My parents were alive in my life for 52 and 54 years respectively (my father having predeceased my mother by two years). As a result of their longevity, and my good fortune, I had ample opportunity to observe and to listen, to live and hopefully learn, and to speak when spoken to. I was not simply raised by my parents, I was nurtured, and of course, I was loved. (I was liked, too.) In addition, I was encouraged and supported. I was made to feel that we (my brother, Richard and I) were the center of my parent's universe and that we were most important in their lives. Rarely did anything - or anyone - else seem to matter, even during their dying days when, with what little time they had left, they still were more concerned with our welfare than their own. It really was quite amazing to see.
If my parent's goal was to create an environment where their children could thrive and grow and exceed their accomplishments (both professionally and personally), they succeeded. And it is only because of the trust, faith and confidence that they placed in us that we have become who we are proud to say we are: sons who were there for their parents when they died just as they had been there for us all of those years when they were still alive.
At the burial site, it's the Jewish tradition that before the service ends, the casket is to be lowered into the ground and dirt be tossed on to the plain, pine box by the individual mourners as they leave the internment site, a heart-wrenching finish to an extremely emotional good-bye. Often words are spoken at this moment. I told my mother that I loved her and told her to say "Hello" to Beez (my father).
Now my parents are together in heaven just like they were together for nearly 70 years on Earth. My brother and I miss them both, terribly; they were great parents. And it is because of their greatness that Richard and I will persevere. They wouldn't want us - or expect us - to act any differently. We'll never forget all that they did for us. We owe them everything.

Kenneth B. Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.