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Dealing With the Loss of Parents

May 12, 2000

I just wanted to thank you for the article "Nobody's Baby Now" (April 19) and to say that it really spoke to me. Actually, it took my breath away. I had talked to a friend of mine about the very subject that the article explored about a week before, but I had a hard time putting my thoughts into words. Your article said things that I had thought about, but I didn't realize people had written books about them. It was like a revelation.

I am a 55-year-old male, the second of three sons. My mother passed away in 1966, at the age of 47. My father passed away in April 1998, and I was the executor of his estate. Needless to say, I had to deal with many things in the year that it took to settle his affairs. In the time since my father died, I have often thought of how strange it is to not have any parents anymore. I mean, it's not like I didn't expect it to happen eventually, but when it did, and I had time to reflect, life took on a different color. It's like you don't have that frame of reference anymore, whether you had a good relationship or not. Somehow, you do feel like you're on your own.

I was a little amused by the comments regarding the baby boomers and their difficulty accepting their parents' mortality, not to mention their own. Is this the first generation to whom it's a big surprise that their parents are going to die someday? Or that they themselves are getting older? What a shock! I think that for many of us, aside from the loss itself, the worst thing about losing the second parent is that it brings us face to face with our own aging, and for those in denial about this basic fact of existence, that can be frightening.

GEORGE IZAGUIRRE

Claremont

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Enjoyed your article, but demographics are changing as we speak. At age 65, one of a couple has a high probability of living to age 93. At age 68, I have a 96-year-old healthy mother in a nursing home.

Do the affluent, high-spending baby boomers a favor. Tell them to plan their finances so that they have money for caring for parents and nursing home care for themselves (and a spouse). At $40,000 each after taxes, this is a big job and sure focuses one's attention.

I was told that a girl becomes a woman when her mother dies, which means I will have few years as a woman. But I did change my priorities when it became clear that I would be in the "sandwich" generation into my 70s.

LOIS FRISS

Granada Hills

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