Saturday, 30th of March 2013.
I suddenly realized my parents are old. It was when we’re having dinner in a mall. It was your usual family night out. They were bored and us kids had nothing better to do. So we decided to go to a mall to have dinner. As usual, we bickered about the restaurant we’re going to dine in. My mom was tired of seafood, my brother craved sashimi while I was sick of it, meanwhile my dad was rebutting my arguments to dine french. After a while, we settled for fish and chips. As I sat myself across my mom, I realized something. I noticed exhaution in her eyes, and weariness in her shoulders. I gazed to my dad and saw the same things in his cheeks, which were showing an early sign of sagging. Those weren’t there last time I went home to see them, those weren’t even there when they yelled at me for being so slow an hour ago.
While placing our orders, I came to a sudden realization that my parents are not going to be here forever. Sure I’ve known that they’re human and are going to die SOMEDAY since I was about twelve. But today I realized that the day is not somewhere far from reality, but closer than I’m comfortable with.
While we were munching our appetizer (beef nachos with extra jalapeños), a sense of anxiety enveleoped me. Would I be able to support them in their old age? I’m their first son, because I had no sister I’ll be expected to take care of them. A sense of regret for choosing fine arts major instead of law like my dad wanted appeared. I most certainly would have more money to support them if I were to became a lawyer than an artist. I started to feel insecure, what if I’m a failure in their eyes? What if I had disappointed them? This left me lost in my thoughts, making me let my brother ate my share of nachos.
The main course (dory fillet covered in oat with sautéed potatoes for me and dad, while my mom and brother had sandwiches) came, and I tried to join the small talks. We chatted about how my mom met the mother of my high-school mate during a visit to a hospital, about the average grade in my brother’s class, about how long its been since I paid a visit to my grandparents. I politely listened, genuinely interested but not participating more than giving the perfunctory “yes” or “no”. I thought about whether I would be able to make my parents proud, barely tasting the soft, buttery, fillet in my mouth. Would I be able to live up to their expectation? Would I have to sacrifice my ambition for theirs’? How much I’d have to sacrifice? As a teenager I’ve never gave these question much thought, I just thought “this is my life, I have to get to do what I want, I have to be what I wanted to be”. But as I’m approaching my 21st birthday I’m starting to think about what my parents thought about me, about their hopes and expectation for me, and whether I have disappointed them or made them proud. While I cleaned up the last morsels of potatoes from my plate, I was torn in two, a half of me insisted that I am under no obligation to live up to their expectation, while the other half said that the least that I can do to repay them for raising me is to make them feel like they were doing a good job at it.
After the waitress took away our empty plates, I still haven’t reached a conclusion. I proposed ordering dessert to give me more time to think, but it was getting late and my brother wanted to check out the bookstore. So we promptly paid the bill and left. I tried to keep on thinking but my mind quickly wanders to the sale sign in the first clothing store we passed by, and suddenly I stopped worrying, turning to my dad to ask him whether he would bought me some t-shirts.