As Our Parents Age...

It is not easy watching one's parents age.  It seems that they are just bopping around, all full of life and then one day...when you were busy with life, yourself,  and not paying attention...they suddenly got much older and more fragile.  I remember when this happened to my mother.  Oh, it wasn't the white hair because she had been sporting that for years.  It was the the way that she began to slow down.  Having been active (especially outdoors...) for the entirety of her life, the slowness was an indicator that she was visibly becoming older.  And then one day I noticed her posture bent over a bit as she slowly moved around.  And then came the cane and occasionally the use of a walker.  Age appears to "sneak" up on us with subtle warnings that we choose to simply ignore until it is staring us right in the face.  And faced with an aging parent is not easy.  Not easy on them because they constantly reminisce about how their life used to be and not easy on their children because they are not the way they used to be.  It brings to our attention the reality of our mortality.

My mother is 84 years old and still lives by herself.  My sister lives next door to her, so it is comforting to know there is someone close by.  For a few weeks now, my mother has not been feeling well and we have been on a mission to find out why.  Last Tuesday she went for a doctor's appointment and I got a call that they needed to admit her to the hospital.  I rushed down there and waited while they finished up a CAT scan and then watched as my mother's frail body was wheeled around the corner in a wheelchair.

The most immediate concern they found was that she was critically anemic and needed a blood transfusion.  When both my sister and I left the hospital that evening,  around 10 p.m., they still had not started the transfusion.  When I got back to the hospital the following morning, the transfusion had been completed and her color looked much better and the doctors were ready to proceed with more tests to find out exactly what was wrong with her.  After doing a couple of tests and preparing for another, Mother went into A-Fib.  She was moved to the cardiac floor and a cardiologist was called in.  Yesterday, he decided to shock her heart back into rhythm.  Now, this was more than a little frightening for me, although I knew the cardiologist was one of the best in town.  Surprisingly, the procedure did not take long to perform and Mother seemed to perk up and feel much better the rest of the day.  There was still one test pending but due to her weakened state, we decided that it would be best to wait for a couple of weeks and have it done as an outpatient.  And so, I wait today to see if she will be released from the hospital. 

It has been an 8 day hospital stay and my mind has been forced to go where I would really not choose for it to go.  It is not easy seeing one's parent lay in a hospital bed, helpless.  It is not easy to be the one who now must make decisions for them.  It is a responsibility that does not even compare to that of becoming a parent to one's own children.  But it is a responsibility,  nevertheless,  and one that many adult children have.  As I walked through the halls of the hospital to get to my mother's room daily, I often noticed elderly patients sitting in their rooms alone.  No one came to see them in the hours that I remained at my mother's bedside.  And this was sad. I wondered if they even had anyone who could come or if those people merely chose not to.  We must do and face things in life that are not pleasant; things that we would rather not see.  But sooner or later something happens that forces us to take the blinders off and face reality.  And the reality is that we are given the gift of life on a moment by moment basis and should enjoy it with those we love, for they will not always be around for us to do so.  Embrace the moment...embrace life...live it to the fullest!


1 comment

  1. Thinking of you and your Mom. Life happens, how we handle it is living. It is a strange transition we all are having to make. See you soon. Lori

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