My parents have always been my rocks… that firm foundation on which I could always rely. If I needed something built or repaired dad was always my “go-to” guy. Advise or sewing (or the good home-cooked meal)? Mom. Even the occasional loan, though I hate to think about that. I wish I never needed help in that area.
My dad just turned 80 last month, and mom will follow in just a few months. By all accounts, they are doing fantastic for their age – neither of them is on any kind of medication other than vitamins and the Tums my dad regularly chaws down. They drive all over, go places, do things; especially mom. Just last week she and three gal pals headed up to a cabin in the mountains where they stayed up all hours playing games, chatting, and drinking the occasional glass of wine. Honestly, when I grow up, I want to be just like my mom. She rocks.
But. Always has to be “but”. They are 80. I’ve noticed they are a little less steady on their feet these days, and the reflexes aren’t what they used to be. Right after we’d moved in here, my mom tripped and fell in the house and split her head open. I had to take her to the doctor for stitches. Do you know how head wounds bleed?! It was awful, and I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered. Yesterday, my dad was mowing the lawn (it’s an acre, all in grass, so it’s a big job… fortunately he has a riding mower). Alan did this work when we first moved in, but now that he’s working 2 full-time jobs, he doesn’t do it anymore. Well, yesterday dad was going under a tree and an errant branch took a nice hunk out of his head. Now, being my dad, he pulled the paper towel out of his pocket (his form of pocket hankie, since mom long ago refused to keep washing nasty snot rags) put it on the gash, put his hat back on and continued the mowing. Once he was done with the back half, he came in…. when I saw the blood on his head, I almost lost it. Sure, I was calm on the outside, and I checked his scalp, determined no stitches were necessary, told him to rest and forced my husband (even though it made him cranky with me) to finish the yard.
What I noticed after was that I was shaky and sick to my stomach. Blood doesn’t really bother me, so I know it wasn’t that – it’s just the realization that my parents are truly aging, and it freaks me out. They are supposed to take care of me; I don’t want to take care of them! Not because of the effort, that’s not it at all – it’s what that implies – that they are getting to a point in their lives where they may become unable to take care of themselves; that they aren’t all they used to be. It scares me. Even though I am nearly 50 years old myself (uhg uhg uhg!!!) I still feel like I need my parents. I have a daughter who needs me, and it just seems like a bit of a frightening spot to be in.
My natureopath told me that my health issues are definately compounded by stress; somehow I need to find constructive ways to deal with these issues or I may end up just spontaneously combusting one of these days.