The Silence, by Odilon Redon
Aging people ramble on the same old souvenirs, just too much.
You grow weary of those yarns well known: old wins, defeats of the yesterday, things they liked so much or those they said “no!” to. This is silly! Why on earth do they tire us? We have things to do, we live today.
Well, give a thought to this: They recite those anecdotes because they are made of them. They speak to recall themselves who they are because they feel with terror that they are about to forget who they are. This is urgent, life or death! The past fades away, it must be re-told to remember their self, to ceaselessly rebuild it. We all live this permanent “individuation” unawares, but they must use the few stones left to build – that poor litany of memories.
You are certain to kill your old parents by not allowing them to speak: by telling them that you did hear this already, you know, yes, you know; by making them feel cold or how ridiculous they are or simply cutting in, not listening so that at last they become silent. They do and soon enough they forget, and forget themselves, wither and die out.
As it happens, marriage dies in the same way.
What does it cost you then to listen one thousand times to the same old story, like night falling every evening, like eating our daily bread and drinking water? A drop of patience, of mercy, forgiving our parents their weaknesses, as we will want our children to forgive ours.