Mom, Dad, and Me.

I’m currently transferring all of my July-August 2004 posts from my old blog, RcktRamblings, to this one. Somehow they (and all my comments, which are still stuck on Blogger and will just have to stay there) never got transferred when I opened the Launching Pad.

While moving things over, I found this post that I had left in drafts but never published. It’s a brief overview about my Mom and Dad, and how their lives have impacted mine. With a few tweaks and revisions, it’s still as topical today as it was a year ago. So here it is. –R

My parents have been married for forty years. Forty. 40. Unbelievable.

I guess it isn’t that unbelievable when you consider that I’m going to be 35 this year. Good God. I’m going to be 35 this year. Ouch.

In that forty years, a lot has happened.

They met while working together at Warwick Electronics in Zion, Illinois. Warwick used to manufacture TVs, stereos and other equipment for Sears. Dad had started working there in the late 50s, with a break in between when he was drafted to serve in the Army during the Berlin Wall crisis from 1959 to 1961. He never went overseas, since the crisis died down while he was in training. He was discharged and never called back up again, thankfully, since the Vietnam war was soon to come. After his Army stint, he went back to Warwick, and that’s when he met my mom.

Mom, as I have told the story already, had just been divorced from her first husband and moved back from Indiana. She was a keypunch operator, which, as some of you may remember, is an early precursor to the computers of today. Think hanging chads and the like… that’s what it was all about.

They met, courted, and eventually married in 1965. They adoped a puppy they named Peanut, and a bird named Sam. Sam didn’t last very long… he was gone after a short while, but Peanut stayed for many years.

Their first home was a rented house in Zion. They were only there for a year, because as luck would have it, the land which their house sat on was purchased and was set to be cleared due to the building of the Zion Nuclear power plant. So they had to move.

They moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, my dad’s hometown, into a three-year-old, three bedroom ranch house in a planned subdivision. The neighborhood was full of couples just starting out. It was 1966. That’s four years before I was born, folks. And I’m the oldest.

They still live in that same house today.

They waited for four years to have children, mainly for financial reasons, but also because my mom had decided to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse. So she enrolled in nursing school. In early 1970, she received her LPN degree, and started working at St. Catherine’s Hospital. Dad continued working at Warwick, where he had been promoted to Production Manager, and eventually Plant Manager.

Things seemed like they couldn’t get better for the Aiello’s. And then, in December of 1970, I arrived.

Mom continued to work at the hospital. She had been working in Emergency since her graduation, but after having me, she decided she wanted to work in Maternity. So she transferred, and she stayed there for the rest of her career.

My sister was born in March of 1973. The family was now complete.

And then, shortly after Beth was born, Warwick closed. Dad found himself without a job for the first time in almost 20 years. He had started at Warwick as a factory worker, and worked himself up to management. He didn’t have a degree of any kind, and had never gone to college at all.

And so started a string of jobs for my father. All throughout my life (after Warwick), my dad never had a job for more than five years. He got by on his experience, but couldn’t get past a low-level management job. And as the job market got more competitive, and the requirements for jobs became more stringent, he found that employment became harder and harder to come by. So by the time he approached his 60s, he was already out of work, and was battling Diabetes. So he decided to just stop working.

Mom stayed at St. Catherine’s for 25 years. She would have stayed longer, but health problems got in the way. The first, and the scariest, was kidney cancer. Thankfully, the doctors found this early enough that they could remove the kidney and stop the cancer from spreading. She has been cancer free now for over 10 years. The next was hip replacement surgery. And then came the diagnosis that has affected her ever since– Emphysema. Many past years of smoking had finally caught up to her. So Mom had to leave the job she loved, and had to retire.

So Dad has Diabetes and Mom has Emphysema. Because of their health problems, it’s getting too hard for them to care for the house anymore. Mom can’t go up and down the stairs to do laundry– yet she does it, because SOMEONE has to do it.

The yard around the house is merely a faint shadow of its former self, when Dad used to grow over 200 rose bushes, along with various vegetable gardens, and care for his lawn. Dad used to be outdoors nearly every day. Now dad never goes outside. In fact, he never leaves the house at all. He can barely get around because of the infections in both of his feet. The roses are all gone, and they pay someone to cut the grass. He sits inside the house all day, every day, and watches TV. And that’s his life.

Mom, though weakened herself, still goes out, shops, even works part-time for a senior-citizen trust fund company. Even after all she has been through, she just keeps on going. She’s the perfect model for a positive mental attitude. My mom has been to hell and back. No doubt about it, she’s my hero.

I hate seeing them this way, though. I wish my parents could be the typical retirees– traveling all over the world, having tea and playing tennis with friends, going on fishing trips or to shows. But instead, my parents–especially my Dad– are slowly cowering away from life and becoming hermits.

I don’t want to end up like that.

Of course, it’s not to say that I will. I am my own person. I live my own life. Sure, I’ve made mistakes (some of which they will hopefully never know about). But I want my life to be full of adventure and excitement– enough so that when I am their age I can say that I enjoyed it, and maybe, hopefully, have more years ahead.

I’m suddenly reminded of a wonderful song called “100 Years” by Five for Fighting. I love the lyrics because it talks about how quickly time flies and how the moments pass by so very quickly. To close this post, here are those lyrics… think about your family… your parents… your grandparents. Think of what they accomplished in life, and what you want to accomplish in your life. It may not be exactly what you intended at the outset, but if you accomplish something good, you’re doing something with the life you have. That’s what it’s all about.

100 Years
by Five for Fighting

I’m 15 for a moment
Caught in between 10 and 20
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I’m 22 for a moment
She feels better than ever
And we’re on fire
Making our way back from Mars

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose
15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

I’m 33 for a moment
Still the man, but you see I’m a they
A kid on the way
A family on my mind

I’m 45 for a moment
The sea is high
And I’m heading into a crisis
Chasing the years of my life

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy, Time to lose yourself
Within a morning star

15 I’m all right with you
15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live

Half time goes by
Suddenly you’re wise
Another blink of an eye
67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We’re moving on…

I’m 99 for a moment
Dying for just another moment
And I’m just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

15 there’s still time for you
22 I feel her too
33 you’re on your way
Every day’s a new day…

15 there’s still time for you
Time to buy and time to choose
Hey 15, there’s never a wish better than this
When you only got 100 years to live