Monday, May 20, 2013

Baz Luhrmann "Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen"

There was one line in the song "Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen" that I didn't understand, and knew I wouldn't, for awhile.

"The older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young."

I was 30 when the song came out, and not so far removed from my youth that this line would have resonance.

At 44, I'm moving into a different phase of my life, for sure.

I took the day off on Friday, to go to my old hometown of Newburyport.

My Mom was having knee replacement surgery that day, and I thought she, and my Dad, would appreciate it if her kids were there.

Everything went fine and by all accounts, the surgery was routine.

But it's a pretty major operation, that requires a boatload of drugs.  And back in her room, Mom was pretty out of it.

She asked me if I could feed her some ice chips, because her throat was dry but she was too weak to do it herself.

The setting, the sound of the equipment, and her state . . . well, it wasn't too hard to see this as a vision of things to come.

Mom is in decent health.  And as a former nurse, she's pretty on top of all check-ups and medical history and prevention and such.

At age 67, she could certainly be with us for decades to come.

On the other hand, it's not lost on me that her own mother, my grandmother, passed away at this age.  And certainly so many others in our life, have passed on at even younger ages.

Undoubtedly, I was in this reflective mood because the 2nd reason I was in Newburyport, was to go to a memorial service for Dean, the man who lived on the other side of Jefferson Street from us, when I was growing up.

I had seen neither my neighbor, nor his kids, in many years.  In fact, other than a brief conversation with them during the memorial for my own sister, it may have been a full 20 years since seeing them.

But while my Mom was in surgery, my sister Julie, Dad and I went to the graveside memorial, and to a small reception after.

And that's where I, for the first time, really felt the line, "The older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young."

Dean's first wife had died way back in the 80s, when I was a teenager.  Our families had been close before, but with the loss of their mother, our connection became even more important and impactful.  My mom, in particular, was there for Dean, and for the kids who had just lost their mother, in a way that's meaningfulness I could not have understood as a teenager.

The last time I saw them was at my sister's memorial, a few years ago.  We talked for several minutes, retelling funny stories about my sister and her somewhat wild youth, when one of Dean's children got a little teary-eyed and said, "Talking about Amy reminds me of my mother."

That's why I wanted to be there Friday.

I realized that for them, to see me and speak to me was to draw a straight line to their youth.  No doubt that the many spouses and children and co-workers and friends who were in attendance are much closer to them than I am.  But none of those people knew their Mom.

And in reverse, there is no one I have ever been closer to, than my wife.  We have shared so much, on the deepest, most meaningful level.

But even she doesn't have direct access to the part of me that was swung like a statue around and around on a grassy lawn by the older brother.  Or the part of me who collected driftwood on the Plum Island reservation, for a 2-family cookout on an empty beach just before sunset.  Or the part of me who thrilled in making a haunted house with the neighborhood kids in a basement.

There are the people who were there in your formative years.  And there are times in your life---particularly when contemplating, or confronting, mortality---when you need them.

"The older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young."

Hear the song on Youtube.

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