The Talk

Photo by Tracy Fuentes

By Ash Fuentes

I dream of one day having a place of my own to decorate with every aesthetic that my mid-size heart desires. I’d spend money on as many nonessential homely items as I please. I already have the theme of every room picked out in my head, complete with exact furniture pieces and organizers. I want to live on my own and have my own space, no matter how simple this dream of mine may seem, it will never see the light of day.

It sucks to have parents who are on the older side. I don’t say this to be rude, or ageist, or ungrateful. It’s just that growing up my parents were always ten years or so older than the parents of kids my age. Sometimes even kids older than me had parents younger than mine which I always thought was confusing. But recently, it’s become much more noticeable.

I’m now at the age where I have no choice but to think about time passing us on. As my peers have started getting married, having children, graduating college, etc. I realized I’m nowhere close to settling down into that lifestyle yet. And if I want my parents to be part of that next step, I desperately need to get moving. I’ve spent my time selfishly, and taken every opportunity for a sentimental moment with my parents for granted. Every day I live with regret from skipping out on having a debut on my 18th birthday.  

I bawled my eyes out at my sister’s college graduation ceremony when the realization hit that I’m not going to have one for them to attend. Then my sister, the glue maintaining the family’s communication, will be moving away. She has made us so proud in ways that words could never describe justly, and now she will be away accomplishing more to make us feel the pride all over again. Yet, without her, I don’t know how the rest of us could even talk to each other. 

I won’t have anything for them to participate in, it’s as if my purpose in my family has suddenly changed. My circle of people is shrinking so my priorities have been crossed out and rewritten over and over again.

My reoccurring heartache has grown extra numbing lately because of a recent conversation I had with my mother. She sat me down and had the “it’s no secret that I’m getting older…” talk with me. I never thought that this conversation would ever come up between us. 

She implied that her health will begin to decline, when she’s always been the strongest and most independent woman I know. She had me when she was thirty-nine, an age that many would advise as dangerous, as more pregnancy complications can arise past the mid-thirties. She’s turning sixty-one this year. Her hearing has gotten worse and pretty soon I will have to witness even more changes, without my sister by my side. 

My mother had my older sister at thirty-eight. And now, it feels surreal knowing I  only have a few months before she’ll move hundreds of miles away from us instead of across the hall for me to call for whenever I need to borrow clothes. My mother with teary eyes asked me, “who will be with me once she is gone?” I couldn’t even confidently say that it’d be me because of how absent I’ve been, but now I know I don’t have a choice. It has to be me. 

I’m the ghost in my household,as I barely grace my mom and sister with my presence since I work a full-time job. I haven’t even been able to find time to write and truly mean what I say in the last few months. I’m losing precious time that I could be spending with my family. But if I’m not the one slaving away at my job to earn my baby-sized paychecks, the transition into losing my sister’s presence at home will hit ten times harder. If I must be checked out in emotional support, I can only make up for it in all other physical support. 

My dad is an obsessively perfectionistic hardworking man who has been planning his retirement and saying that he will retire for a few years now. Personally, I don’t believe him, as every year he goes straight back to work with not a single break planned for the next 12 months again. He’s worked the standard Monday-Friday with typical hours every week for my whole life. If I ever want to see him get an ounce of rest or peace, I need to make things easier for him too.

And so I am sure that I will go from my teenage years living with my parents, straight to my elderly parents living with me in my young twenties. Instead of paying hundreds and thousands of dollars to attend college courses, I’ll save all that money by simply not going for a few years, if not forever. There will be no transition between me living on my own, having my own place for a bit and keeping to myself, before my parents will have to move in with me and I’ll be their personal caretaker for the rest of our lives.

My worries overtake my thoughts and every night turns into a sleepless one. I guess I always knew I wouldn’t be getting that dream after all. But it will all be worth it as long as my parents don’t feel that same deeply resonating loneliness that I do every time that I get into bed and turn off the lights. I would miss out on living my life if it meant the other people in my family get to live theirs as they please. And so, I will drive to my eight-hour shifts every day with no complaints and skip out on the college experience, just to make sure I don’t forget about what I have waiting for me at home.


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