Sometimes my kids just hold up fingers to signal how many times I’ve told them that. They are grown men and sensitive souls, so they don’t intend offense. Most of our conversations are sporadic, minimal, our vocabulary as distinct as the difference between, say, English and Korean—except that, having grown up in the modern world, they understand English perfectly, whereas I’m lost in the sea of acronyms and references that separates us.
They talk to each other—repetitively, I might add—and tell me, convincingly, that they love me. When they’re really hurting, they spell it all out to me eventually, and to no one else, so I know there is a bridge across the chasm of age that separates us. But it’s a bit like the conversational equivalent of a one-way mirror.
There are so many things I want to say to them, but it would just be shouting against the wind across the void of time. They don’t want to hear it, don’t need to hear it, probably can’t and even shouldn’t hear it—so I’m stuck with banalities, and nagging warnings about ridiculously outdated concerns.
Maybe that’s why I keep having to repeat myself–not because my memory is failing, but because I keep feeling the impulse to reach back across time to give them something I know, something I’ve seen, some consolation they may not even need yet–but will need, oh yes.
Maybe old people gradually go silent because we finally accept that insight must be hard and singly won, that the key can only fit when the lock is discovered, when necessity drives—that the young will find their way, even as we must move forward, feeling our own way into the snowstorm of the unknown.