Sunday, March 21, 2010
I have been spending a lot of time with my parents these days. They are at that stage of their life where medical concerns start to dominate their lives. Their memories while once sharp now have dulled. My mom has quite a few physical challenges and has just returned home after almost 3 months in the hospital and rehab. Dad, while pretty good physically is starting to forget more and more things. I have tried and help them out through moms medical challenges. This post is not about their medical concerns but rather about how ones life changes and how to cope with it.
I watch my dad a lot lately. In his early life he was a great people person. All his life he was in charge of people and things. He had kids to look after and raise, and money to earn to support his family. Every day he got up, there was somewhere to go and something to do. He was the "GOTO" guy at home and all of his kids would look to him for guidance. People relied on him and he always came through. He was a people person, and loved talking to people.
Now at age 77 he is having trouble coming to grips with where his life is now. He no longer has a job to go to, nor people there who look to him for decisions and guidance. His children have all grown, have kids, and now come less and less to him for guidance. He looks after my mom but other than that really does not have a lot to do. And in a total role reversal it is now he who relies on his children for guidance and assistance. How hard that must be for him. Who he was and what he awoke each day for has changed. So now what is his role?
Sometimes when I am with my parents it's like being with my kids. It makes me see how much life turns in a full circle. I think that it is important that a person always has something to get up for. Something that they still want to accomplish. But, also important to understand that the roles constantly change and so we have to constantly redefine ourselves within those changes.
I too am hitting those changes. My kids are growing up. My daughter, just turned 18 is now legally responsible for her own actions. My son is going to be 16 and he too is moving forward. Sure they still respect what I have to stay and certainly are reliant on me financially, but not like when they were young. When I was their everything.
I talk to my dad about figuring out what he wants to do with his life, but I now realize that I too am at that very stage. My kids will need my time less and less, and for any parents reading this you surely know how much time that gives you back. And now, my main role of being a dad is no longer the same.
I guess what I am really saying is that in life we all have to meet change head on. We don't have to fight it but embrace it. And not be scared to walk down that road that is not so comfortable. The one we may not have walked on for a long time. The ones that we have never walked on.