Most parents, I think, would do anything for their child/children. I know there are exceptions, but I truly believe that most of us (myself included) do everything within our power (and sometimes without) to provide our child/children with everything they need and more.
A newborn is reliant on his/her parent/caregiver. We respond to that. (No matter how exhausting that might be.) As a child grows, we need to allow them more independence. (This is a really hard one for me…just ask my son! I have a REALLY hard time of letting go. However, I AM working on it.) Although my son still could use some lessons being an adult, he’s relatively mature. He could survive on his own (probably) and I could leave him alone for a couple of days if needed and he’d be ok. (I, on the other hand, would be a total wreck, but…). He will need to learn how to live on his own and I need to learn how to let him go.
That’s how life is. A child grows, matures and then is off on their own. That doesn’t mean that we are out of their lives; it just means they have become adults and are (hopefully) ready for adult responsibilities and what the world will have to throw at them.
Most of us expect that this is how life will go. Have a child, raise a child and watch him/her blossom and grow into an adult who will do the same. (I know I’m oversimplifying here…)
What we, or at least I didn’t anticipate was the other end of the spectrum. What happens when our own parents age. It is my experience, and the experience of several of my friends, that as our parents age, they rely more and more on assistance. They are unable to be as independent as they once were. And like the infant, they require help. In some ways as we get older, we require as much assistance as we once did when we were younger. (Odd kind of circle of life thing, right?)
It wasn’t something I was expecting. Perhaps I should have. Both of my grandmothers required assistance as they aged. My paternal grandmother lived in an assisted residence and while my maternal grandmother remained in her home (my home now) until her death, for the last 4 years of her life she was bedridden and required round the clock care. So it makes sense that my parents would need assistance.
After a rocky autumn, my parents and I were able to find someone to live in and provide care. This hasn’t been easy for anyone. One of the things that makes it difficult is that while I know my parents are taken care of, their physical ailments are not going to get better. Things that I thought might be (relatively) easily solved cannot be.
No one likes it when their child is suffering; the same can be said when it comes to parents. The knowledge that while their situation may be better it is probably never going to be truly “good.” To know that the difficulties are not going to get easier. To feel that there is no forward; only back.
It is hard. It is depressing. It is frustrating. It is sad. It is heartbreaking. It IS reality. It is a harsh reality.
I HATE the fact that I can do very little to make the situation better. That the best I can do is to try and make things a little easier. To know that the goal is comfort and not cure. To do my best to following the words/teachings of 1 Corinthians; to BE those words: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Because I have love for my son, who I have raised and for my parents who raised me and now need comfort, I cannot fail. As with transitions of age, I will do so with love.
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than seven years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.