Today, the last living member of my parent’s generation passed away. Uncle Ralph was 97 years young and despite his age, died much too early. He was active and filled with vigor throughout his life, even until just a couple of months ago when he became ill. Just last summer we visited him in Missouri and he was raring to go and full of fun!
Perhaps, the hardest part of knowing he’s gone, is that his passing brings his entire generation to an end in our family. It’s difficult to imagine a planet where neither of my parents, my stepfather, nor any of my aunts and uncles are alive. Even today, I can vividly recall all of us sitting at the dining room table (or the kid’s table) at my grandparents home laughing and talking during the holidays. I can remember the joy of them arriving at Christmas or Thanksgiving, usually the two times a year we could all gather due to distances. I can recall bits and pieces of the stories they told, wishing today that I had written them down. And most of all, I can recall the comfort as a kid in knowing that we had such a great extended family.
His death also means my generation is now the oldest living one. And it’s rather hard to think that any of my siblings, cousins, or I can begin to fill the same shoes that our parents did. Personally, I feel like an imposter in such a role. I’m not supposed to be the seasoned elder or the wise old grandpa. That’s supposed to be their job! But, they are no longer here…except in our hearts and in our individual and collective memories.
Thank you, Mom and Dad, Uncle Tom, Uncle Ned, Aunt Gerry, Aunt Nina, Jim (stepdad), Uncle Bill, Aunt Jean, and Uncle Ralph. All of you were very special in your own individual way. You forged an impressive trail throughout life. My hope is that our generation can begin to replicate your many achievements.