I had expected a few comments from readers last week regarding my column about the role reversal that takes place for those of us tending to aging parents.
But 45 e-mails, a dozen phone calls and a lot of comments from people inside and outside the newsroom proved one thing: A bunch of us are in the same boat. And the boat is about the size of the Titanic.
I heard from people who have already been through the difficult experience of moving parents out of the houses they have lived in for decades. Some said they were getting ready to move a parent. Some e-mails were from people who are years away from the experience but suddenly realized it will, indeed, affect them at some point.
And some told me they know they'll be the ones moving soon.
Many people said the column made them cry. Sorry! I prefer it when readers say my column made them laugh out loud.
But maybe tears are OK. If you were one with teary eyes as you read, at least you know that you're not alone in your experiences or your memories.
I got to read stories about what others have been through and received a lot of good advice. I appreciate hearing from everyone who took time to write, call or comment.
But one voice-mail had a different tone and was very sad.
The caller, a man who didn't identify himself, said he woke up one morning when he was 65 and realized his parents wouldn't be around much longer. "That hit me like a freight train," he said.
"I thought back to how great it was in the '40s when we were all together and I thought it would be like that forever. It's not.
"Age is a terrible thing," he said right before he hung up.
People are living longer than ever, but aging is something we cannot control. Time marches on, leaving not one living person behind.
But I'm not sure I agree that aging is a terrible thing. And I can say that because I'm no spring chicken. Age doesn't bring a ton of advantages, but there are a few, and I want to focus on those.
As we age, time seems to spin out of control. Months fly by and before we know it, another year has come and gone.
And that's why we need to put away our cell phones, turn off our iPods, look up from our laptops and just be in the moment more often than we do. Talk and listen to those around you.
It might not slow down time, but it will provide more sweet memories. And I've learned just how important those memories are.
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