My husband and I have reached the stage of life when we begin to realize that our parent(s) are getting older and that time is not on our side. The signs are very subtle and sneak up on you. Suddenly, Dad doesn’t walk as steady as he once did or mom has trouble using her hands to do the sewing she used to love.
We all know that age is progressive. We know that we will get older and that there are consequences to aging, some good, some bad. We think we’re ready to deal with whatever aging brings us but I, for one, have to admit I suddenly wonder, “when did this happen?”
I lost my mom too early. She was only 59, but it was emphysemia that caused her early death so I never really saw her age much. Certainly, I watched as she lost some of her strength and abilities but it was always because of the disease.
But it’s different when you see your parents who seemed to be completely healthy and strong one day and then faltering the next.
One day Mom is working in her flower beds for hours at a time and then hosting the family for dinner. The next, she can only work in the yard for short periods and it takes a few days for the aches and pains to fade away.
Dad rides his bike and walks miles and miles a day. Then you realize that even short walks can be too much for him. You have to be aware so that he doesn’t push himself too hard.
Or maybe you’re used to Dad being confident and in control all the time. Then find that he is asking for your guidance more often and leaning on you instead of you leaning on him.
And always there are the medical appointments. What used to be accomplished with you only hearing about it when there was a problem is now something that worries you constantly. Every appointment brings a fear that all will not be well. That this will be when you find out what is going to take them away from you.
Now, my Dad and my in-laws, who I love like my own parents, are beginning to decline and I am afraid. I think about how they are going to get along and whether I should be doing more to help. I worry that there just isn’t enough time to show them how much I love and admire them. I wish I could freeze the clock until I’m ready.
My Dad is my hero. Always has been. He served 30 years in the Navy retiring as a Master Chief. I always believed he could do just about anything. He was strong and sure and my protector. He is the connection to my childhood that no one can replace. And no matter what else life hands me, I know that he loves and is proud of me. His faith in me makes me feel like I can do anything. He makes me feel like a hero.
And, as for my Mom and Dad (in-law), I know there will never be enough time. I was blessed with them only twenty-eight years ago. They welcomed me with open arms and hearts. I’ve come to know and love them so completely.
How can I face not having Mom’s advice (whether I need it or not)? Who will advise me about caring for plants and flowers. Where will I turn when I want to know about the family history and so many other things. How will I feel loved without her friendship?
I know I can’t stand losing Dad’s gentle comfort and widom. He always knows how to bring peace and calm during difficult times. He gives profound advice that I know I can trust. And yes, even his corny humor is something I will miss desperately.
I know that my musings really have no answer. There is no way to be ready. There will always be regrets and sorrow. I suppose all I can do is try to show each of them how important they are to me and how much I love them.