After lifetimes spent in preparation, they are now departing.
One by one we are watching them go, embarking on exotic journeys of which we can only wonder.
Dressed up in our finery, we gather together to see another one off, once again to wave our goodbyes as we watch one more ship sail into the west and out of our sight.
They were the illustrious class ahead of us all, those of once unimaginable age and unreachable experience.
We studied them carefully, recording their stories at family reunions, seeking their counsel whenever we could.
They were true north - our road maps, our templates.
Don’t they see we aren’t yet ready to move up ahead, to now be the ones the younger ones watch, to now be the ones from whom the answers are required.
We stand on the shoreline and call to them, “Wait!” - but they merely smile nonchalantly and wave us farewell.
We fight our childish urge to wheedle and whine, and stamp our feet - why are they leaving us all so soon?
Too soon, too soon.
But here we sit, the once too-young ones - with our hands folded, our heads bowed - at another valediction, another bon voyage.
Already lonesome for their presence, we are beginning to feel the weight of the mantle we now inherit.
Funny, it seems a bit lighter than I would have imagined.
by Linda Pastan
They seemed to all take off
at once; Aunt Grace
whose kidneys closed shop,
Cousin Rose who fed sugar
my grandmother’s friend
who postponed going so long
we thought she’d stay.
It was like the summer years ago
when they all set out on trains
and ships, wearing hats with veils
and the proper gloves,
because everybody was going
someplace that year,
and they didn’t want
to be left behind.