For some reason, my dad really likes to have the awkward and serious conversations in the car. I don’t know why he decided that the car was the place for it, but he did. So all the big conversations of my life involving him have happened in the car.
I guess you can’t escape, so when your dad starts discussing the ins and outs of safe sex your options are sink low in the seat and mumble responses, or try and flee at the next red light. (I considered rolling out onto the road, but in the end I decided to endure it).
The truth is my family is pretty good at the tough conversations. We just get them done. Usually we lubricate with alcohol, or we’re just trapped in a car, often with the Jurassic Park soundtrack playing. But even though we tackle sex, mental health, family secrets and relationships with enthusiasm and a real lack of fear, there’s one topic we never used to be great on.
Obviously, the older I get, the older my parents get. Which at some point stops being obvious and starts causing you, and them, a bit of anxiety.
What will happen when they’re unable to look after themselves? Who will step in? What do they want? Have they thought about end of life care? Luckily for me, my parents are young. They are both under 60, and I’m assuming that means they will live forever because science will step in at some point in the next 20 years and solve this whole death thing.
But I am also old enough to know that’s not realistic. That things change, and illness can come at any time and with any speed and consequences.