In the poem "My Heart Leaps Up" Wordsworth says, "And the child is father to the man." The most popular interpretation of this is that our habits and idiosyncrasies are 'set' within us as children. I've often thought it has another meaning.
My dad died 13 years ago and at the young age of 74. As tragic as that was I've come to accept it as a blessing. He died long before he would have aged, become frail and dependent, and long before our memories of him would have been relegated to those focused on anything other than a strong and vibrant dad.
For those of us who grieve over lost loved ones, particularly parents, I wonder if their dying before their time might acutually be less painful? Is it easier than waiting for the inevitable? Is it easier than watching the strong and caring parents morph into frailty? Is it easier than dealing with parents on whom we relied on for meeting all things emotional and physical be unable to give either and instead depend on us for both? I'm not sure.
My mom is still vibrant at 88; walks for an hour and a half each day, sings in a couple of choirs, argues with me about EVERYTHING, plays on the bacci ball team, and in short is doing great, but I know what's coming. We see it in my father-in-law who is very frail, refuses any kind of assistance, and is oppositional. "And the child is father of the man," takes on a more literal meaning.