Two years ago, I wrote the blog, which I decided to relaunch this month. This topic continues to be such a big part of my story, and if I am being honest, I am still struggling with it.
For the last month, my mom has been staying with me. Recently she took a fall and my siblings, and I felt it would be best if we kept a closer eye on her. It has been so nice to have her here. Kellan just loves her presence, and the attention she bestows upon him. During this time, I have been observing where she is at in her life. In truth, I have been struggling with her current status. I have deep compassion and love for who she has become, while holding on to the memories of the woman who she once was.
The woman who ran circles around me.
The woman who had such energy and lust for life.
The woman who engaged in hour-long conversations and gave such sage advice.
The woman who loved watching her favorite tv shows/movies and telling me all about them.
The woman who dressed to the nines and sparkled from head to toe.
The woman who loved to shop.
The woman who loved to cook.
The woman who loved to be social.
The woman who told it like it is.
The woman who had such fight in her, and wouldn’t back down.
The woman whose laugh was infectious, you would do anything to hear it.
I understand, when we age, we slow down – physically and mentally. And you know what, it’s so fucking unfair. Golden Years, my ass. We navigate this cruel world, doing our best, living a dignified life, and BAM…it all goes to shit, just in time to retire and live life on our own terms. This is an ongoing conversation I have been having with my siblings and friends. Not because I can change any of it, but more to make some sense out of it, while I work through the grieving process.
If you’re going through this, or have been through this, I would love to know how you best handled it? I would be open to any advice on how you steered this fragile ship. Throw down some wisdom/advice in the comment section of my blog.
There is a time in all of our lives where we go from being taken care of (by our parents) to the role of caretaker. There’s a sometimes-jarring moment of “I’m not the kid anymore” that can correspond with the realization that they’ll grow to be more dependent on you. And you’re facing their mortality—even if it’s not so dire as all that just yet—which in turn makes you think about your own mortality, and well, it can all be so fu%king overwhelming.
My Dad used to always say to me: “don’t get old, kid”. I used to laugh it off as if he was joking. But he wasn’t. There was a subliminal message in that statement, preparing me for the decline in not only the physical but the weakening of everything else that aging robs us of.
Watching our parents grow older is an inescapably challenging and heart-wrenching part of life. How could we not feel the sharp pain of seeing them grow frail, become forgetful, and no longer demonstrating that lust for life? I find myself searching for ways to hide from, deny, avoid, or soften the blow. Avoiding the truth of the situation may provide temporary refuge, but the stark reality of what’s to come lingers.
We all have this urge to grow up, to be independent adults; but we wish for our parents to stay the same. Unfortunately, that is just not the case, as time is undefeated. The person who you idolized as a ten-year-old, eventually becomes the topic of tough conversations between family members as their lives begin to ebb.
I try to look for the upside in witnessing my Mother aging. I don’t find much but there have been two bright lights to make note of. The first is the strength and unity amongst my siblings. We have come together seamlessly, taking on different roles to make sure our Mom is well cared for. However, that is only a testament to how we were raised. Growing up, we observed my mom take amazing care of her aging parents. She demonstrated such deep dedication and commitment that we all have thankfully inherited.
The second bright light is my newfound awareness of my own life, and how I want to age into it. Like everyone else, I want to make the most of my time-limited existence. None of us can truly determine what our life is going to look like in the future. Nonetheless, I don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel that the past was the best part of it. I want to joyfully look upon yesteryear, while still living a life with purpose, on purpose. That light beam of goodness is what digs me out of the trenches most days, knowing how I want to architect my golden years (Lord willing).
So, if you currently find yourself in the trenches with me, observing your parent(s) age, having these same thoughts and conversations with yourself and others – well, just know that I see you.
I see you talking to your parent’s doctors, advocating for better treatment
I see you being a nudge, making sure they’re eating and taking their meds
I see you getting them up and out, so isolation doesn’t set in
I see you slowing down your step, so they can keep up
I see you repeating yourself several times, because their memory is not what it used to be
I see you trying to make a joke about all of the crazy things that bodies do, just to see them laugh
I see you wide awake at night, stressing what the future entails, and if you’re doing everything you can for them, in the present
I see your tears, and how quickly they’re wiped away, because you’re the caregiver now and need to remain strong and positive
I see you frightened, knowing that safety net that once was so secure, has now been threatened.
I see you.