Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Changes with Aging

You know it’s a very sad day when you realize that there is going to come a day when your parents will no longer be around. I think there are many of us now between our 40’s and 50’s who are living this reality and on top of that reality, we are also living with the fact that as our parents age, we find ourselves in the position of taking care of them. I now find myself right there in that place.

I have always been a caretaker by nature. I was the favored babysitter in the neighborhood as a kid mainly because I had no real social life. But also because I really loved t babysit. I had children fairly young starting in my early twenties and having my third one in my early thirties. I’ve always loved to take care of children and animals. It’s something that makes me feel needed and good. But now in my early forties I am finding that is no longer small kids I am taking care of. I do still take care of my kids but obviously they are older now. And of course I still have a plethora of animals to keep me busy, but what I failed to think about years ago was that there would come a time when I might need to take care of my parents—the people who have always been the ones taking such good care of me.
For the most part is my dad who needs the care giving right now. He has Parkinsons Disease and it is a horrifying experience to watch my dad who has always been so active and full of life to now find himself debilitated by the disease. My mom is still capable of taking care of herself and does a good job with my dad, but she is also getting older and needs a break now and then, so that is where I come in. Like I said—I never thought I would be here. No one ever thinks that. However, here we are and I have to be honest, I love being able to take care of Dad and give back. He was the one who first really believed in me as a writer. He was the one who took me out on trail rides as a kid and we would play cowboys and bad guys for hours. He was the one who called me Shelly Belly and would carry me fireman style and tuck me in after reading a story to me as a little girl. He has been an amazing father and my mother is a remarkable pillar of strength and graciousness. Her courage and strength in the face of adversity reminds me that good things come by staying the course—and although she never intended to find herself in her golden years having to take care of my dad, I know how much she loves him and how much he loves her—and after 47 years together that is a very good thing.

I couldn’t be a luckier daughter than to have these two people as my parents. So when it gets tough—and at times, it does—I just remember who raised me and how they raised me and I am grateful to be the one who can now pay them back even if it is only a little bit.

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