I am an adult orphan. I'm not anyone's child anymore. Both my parents have died. There is no smooth transition from being a child in the family to becoming an orphan. One day you have parents and the next day you don't. It's quite a revelation to know that there is no one to approve or disapprove of your actions anymore-- only you. You are it!

It is also hard to face that I now represent the older generation. I was the oldest child and the oldest grandchild in my family. I am now the oldest adult. It is my duty to carry on my family's values, traditions and cultural roots. It is an awesome responsibility to make certain that the inter-generational links, from my great-grandparents to my children and their children, are never severed.

For those of you whose parents have passed on or are in ill health:
Treasure your parents. Make the time to spend it with them. Listen to their concerns. Value what they have to tell you. Provide them with special things that they need-like reading them a book or newspaper. Have no regrets.
Maintain an inter-generational link. Your children should hear stories about their grandparents and great-grandparents. They should experience the food of their ancestors. You should share pictures of your parents and grandparents when they were young. You should discuss how their ancestors arrived in this country.
Record an oral history of your family members and provide it to your children.
Every day, think about a wise saying or direction your parents once gave you that made a difference in your life.
Carry a memento of your parent(s) to keep them close to your heart.

It is important for us to do the best we can while our parents are still alive and to honor them after their passing. I may feel like an orphan but then I remember there was a time when I was a part of a very special family. No one can take my memories away.

I choose to write about my memories in order to help others through the pain of losing their parents and as a result, it will ease my pain.

Author's Bio: 

Annette Gonzalez is a lifelong Floridian and was raised in West Tampa, a Latin neighborhood in Tampa. As a child, she was nurtured in this cultural environment and it influenced her desire to be a writer, speaker and storyteller.

Her closely knit Spanish family influenced her to attend a local college, The University of South Florida where she graduated in 1970 with a B.A. degree in sociology. Soon after graduation she married Terry DeLisle and they had two sons, Jared and Jacques.

Annette's professional background includes positions as a social worker, real estate salesperson, business owner, PBS education director, president of a chamber of commerce and director of business development at an educational association.

In February 2006, when Annette's struggled with coping with the loss of her mother, she needed to fill the emptiness in her heart and began documenting her feelings. Five months later, her father passed away. This is when she began to write and speak about her parents' deaths. What resulted was that Annette provided others who had lost their parents comfort and direction through her writing and speeches.

Annette believes that we need to treasure our parents while they are alive and honor them when they have passed.

Visit Annette's blog, www.marinasabundance.blogspot.com, in memory of her mother, Marina Gonzalez. She encourages those who have lost their mothers or whose mothers are in ill health to post comments.

Annette will be speaking on this topic at the "Time for Me Retreat" in March 2009. Visit the retreat website for details, www.NoTimeForMe.net