TALK TO THEM
By Daniel Murphy
Time rushes past us as we go through our daily lives. Sometimes we get lost with getting things done to the point where we lose sight of why we are doing them. The bottom line is it all evolves around family in some way or another. The career we pursue gives us the home we want or need to provide for our family. We can become absorbed with all the things we “have to do.” We don’t always take the time to talk to the people who did them for us.
They are, of course our parents, who raised us, provided for us and gave us the ability to be where we are today. As we and they get older we seldom take the time on either side to talk about their past. If you are 50 to 60…. they came from a totally different world. One that was harder with different morals, work ethics and life styles. If you had and Irish, Jewish or Italian father you know they did not talk about their lives growing up….other then the “you don’t know how easy you have it routine,” if they said that much.
They are and were, if we have lost them, a stoic lot. Their early years in many cases are never talked about. The best example of this was when I was 40 and driving my mother to New York. As we drove on the Turnpike someone asked me why I was so drawn to writing, local TV and theater. With that my mother answered it was because my father’s mother was Mae Murray a great dancer and silent film star. I was dropped jawed. This was the first I had ever heard the name. Pulling over I looked at her and said, “Mom, there is something wrong with this picture, I am 40 and this is the first time I am hearing this.” “Well,” she replied, “your father was left as a child at a farm in North Carolina by his father when Mae Murray left to go to Hollywood in 1917. He really never wanted to talk about it.”
I was stunned, mostly because it hit me that I knew nothing about my father’s life in his early years other then he roamed the country by himself from the age of 13 until he married my mother at the age of 21. Mom’s explanation for this was he “didn’t like to talk about it.” From that day on I felt I needed to learn as much as I could about his life during that time…but it was too late he had passed away some years before.
I guess that is the point of my story. As we become the care takers to our parents we should find out all we can about their lives before we became the “center of the universe.” Mom has passed away also so there is really no one I can ask about what happened then. I have to rely on other relatives to learn about his and her life. So maybe it is time to sit down and ask them questions before we cannot anymore. After all how can we fully understand who we are if we don’t know where we came from?