|Mama and Dad, May 12, 1951|
I've been mowing four acres of very tall grass this morning, catching up on business and on regular household and farm chores, but the mower coughed and stalled at the end of the second acre, forcing me to take a break.
I tell myself I won't get annoyed. I hit my pace, there is much, much work to be done, but if I have to take a break, so be it. Time to learn patience. Mowing those rows, I've had plenty of time to think and to review the week behind me.
I was close by, so it was no trouble to take a quick detour and drop in to check on things. I thought it warranted a trip to the emergency room, and Dad and I took the drive.
Friday afternoon, four days later, I finally drove home to Z Acres. But I brought my father home from the hospital first. That's always a sweet trip, hospitals suck, but this ride was sweeter than most. So much had fallen on all our shoulders during the week, including a flat tire on my car by the time I pulled into my parents' driveway that Tuesday, and another flat tire on my father's van when I parked it in the hospital parking ramp, same day. Does that even happen? Two flats in one day? Completely unrelated, sure, yet I still don't think much of chance or even bad luck, so, looking back, I put it down to yet one more straw on this camel's back to teach me patience.
Life cycles. Journeys we all take. My shoulders were weary with the load of the week, and it was just one week, but when the head physician took a step back from his earlier decision of moving my father to a nursing home and/or rehab center, and recommended instead a return home--my father had rallied and found new strength under that threat--I found myself suddenly in a mess of tears. My father took one look at my watery face and got misty-eyed, too, stretching an arm out toward me. His other arm was still too sore to lift from his fall.
|Dancing with my father, New Year's Eve 2000|
We will all have our turn. That is, if we are lucky enough to ever be elderly. The alternative to me was not having them around, and I don't want to sit on the edge of my bed, misty-eyed, looking at the blank place in my day ahead. So go ahead, give me the hassle and hurdles to jump. Give me the tests of patience. Give me the aggravation that is love. Nothing tests us more than our relationships, and our very first, our primary, perhaps our most important relationship is the one we have with our parents.
From that primary relationship, we inherit our weaknesses and faults, but also our strengths and qualities. We will all have our turn ... if we are lucky. Someday I will annoy the heck out of my children when I am a crotchety old woman insisting on my eccentric ways ... that I never be moved from my Z Acres, no matter how unsuited it may be to an older woman getting even older; that I have my coffee beans ground fresh every morning; that my food be organic and not store-bought; that my books be always at hand and plenty of them; that my time of solitude be held sacrosanct.
They've been there for us. Now, we must be there for them. It is hard for them to accept all this help that sometimes feels like an intrusion. All these people coming by, my mother sighs, visiting nurses and occupational therapists and who was that last guy anyway? I remind her to consider the alternative. Change isn't easy for any of us, and most of us have a hard time accepting help. I don't want to take away all their independence, nor do I want to lose all of mine.
Let the juggling begin. I accept the challenge of learning more patience. I could use a dose. Growing older is tough. Being alive, really alive, is always a challenge.
I'm so glad they are still around, and still helping me grow.