Getting Old is not for Sissies
My family is big – but beyond big, they’re close and in-your-face perpetually. I will not lie: being across the globe from everyone is sometimes very difficult, but there are days when the distance is quite a relief.
On Tuesday I spent the day with my grandmother, age 88, taking her to buy presents for my two kids, to her knitting store (my grandmother knits every sweater I own and she’s absolutely incredible with her talent) and out to lunch before bringing her back to my parents’ house to see my kids swim and then have dinner before I brought her home again.
On Wednesday I got a call from my great-aunt who had received our holiday card and thought the photo of our family was terrific. It was a nice call to get, but she also, at age 88, is going through her share of issues. She lost a bunch of friends over the past year and she’s alone for the first time in her life, having lost her husband more than 16 years ago and a boyfriend quite recently.
Thursday I spent some of the morning with my grandfather, who is 93 and in an assisted living place. But before going upstairs to his apartment, my mother and I spent a little time with the executive director of the place, discussing issues of my grandfather’s increasing dementia and agitation. Always a jokester, my formerly jovial grandfather yelled at me yesterday because my father wasn’t paying enough attention to him while my dad and my son went to play golf. In a brighter world, Grandpa would have been out on the links with them, but that’s not reality.
Even my parents see more doctors these days than I would prefer. I recently helped my dad compile a list of his medications to bring to his primary care physician for a check. What a list! My dad is healthy, happy, and doing quite well, but it was more of a reality check for me than for him.
My mom and dad are doing a wonderful job caring for their elderly parents and it is not easy. But sometimes they fail to recognize that it’s hard for me to watch too. I hate that my grandparents are old. I want to go back to being seventeen when I could take my car and drive to their houses for the weekend and be completely pampered and cared for. I hate that my parents are older, too, and reminders of that pop up in the most unexpected places.
I’m not yet forty and just feeling a little blue about time passing. I know this is part of life and I can’t change it, nor would I want to. These days and hours speaking with my various family members toward the close of their lives provide me with valuable tools by which I can see the second half of my life, too. So that’s what I’m going to do going forward. I’m going to be patient and I am going to listen. These people are a gift in my life and I will embrace the gifts they bring as long as I can.