Neither of my parents complained about their physical health or other problems, and I am hoping to copy that as well. But there are other ancestral traits I have to watch out for, and I can sometimes feel their ivy twining around me. All my aunts, and my mother, began dyeing their hair as soon as it had more than a sprinkle of gray, and I do, too. But I check in with my daughters, regularly, to make sure that I have not followed in the suddenly-ash-blonde delusion that my mother was so fond of. Most important, my parents were not, for much of their marriage, happy with each other. Even when I was 10, and even with their dance trophies, I could see that. Their troubles led me to a too-early marriage and a painful divorce, but they have also led me to a very happy marriage—and a couples therapist on retainer.
The past is one of our clearest indicators of the future. Everything I saw in my parents—the good and the bad—has given me something. I am cursed with my mother's arthritis but blessed with my father's stamina; his toughness, her kindness. So, ten years from now: no tennis and no whining. Still working, still loving my friends and family. Still dancing (thanks, Daddy, for teaching me the cha-cha).
Amy Bloom's most recent book is Where the God of Love Hangs Out (Random House), a collection of short stories.
Could these 4 questions change your life?