My Uncle Don, Dad’s brother, died recently. I’ll be heading to San Jose for a Celebration of Life for him and Aunt Gen later this month. Today I found myself inviting my stepson to join me. Not like it’s going to be fun, but I suddenly really wanted a son or daughter keeping me company. You see, in the usual scheme of things, life goes in a circle. The old ones die, but young ones take their places. In middle age, we watch our grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles die and we are sad, but there’s a whole new generation behind us to give us hope for the future.
That’s not the case for me. My family is shrinking. There’s no one coming up behind me. I looked through our wedding album the other day and realized that many of the people who were there have died. So many. I look for the next generation, and no one is there because I never had children.
I didn’t mean to make this so sad, but it’s a sad time lately. Too many people in my life are dying or terminally ill. With no children to give me hope for the future, I turn to stepchildren and puppies. It’s not the same, but it’s something.
My uncle and aunt had five children and seven grandchildren. They created a small dynasty which will continue to grow. Fred and I have not done that. He had three children, but none of them are mine, and only one has ever had any children. The others don’t plan to marry or procreate. It’s their business, but they have no idea how lonely it will feel as they attend all those funerals and take up fewer and fewer seats.
Taking a deep breath, we have to accept that some of us are the trunk of the family tree and some of us are the ends of the branches. Most of us have a choice which we want to be. Choose carefully. You get more sun at the tip of the branch, but it’s lonely out there.