There is a time in all of our lives where we go from being taken care of (by our parents) to the role of caretaker. There’s a sometimes-jarring moment of “I’m not the kid anymore” that can correspond with the realization that they’ll grow to be more dependent on you. And you’re facing their mortality—even if it’s not so dire as all that just yet—which in turn makes you think about your own mortality, and well, it can all be so fu%king overwhelming.
My Dad used to always say to me: “don’t get old, kid”. I used to laugh it off, as if he was joking. But he wasn’t. There was a subliminal message in that statement, preparing me for the decline in not only the physical, but the weakening of everything else that aging robs us of.
Watching our parents grow older is an inescapably challenging and heart-wrenching part of life. How could we not feel the sharp pain of seeing them grow frail, become forgetful and no longer demonstrating that lust for life? I find myself searching for ways to hide from, deny, avoid, or soften the blow. Avoiding the truth of the situation may provide temporary refuge, but the stark reality of what’s to come lingers.
We all have this urge to grow up, to be an independent adult; but we wish for our parents to stay the same. Unfortunately, that is just not the case, as time is undefeated. The person who you idolized as a ten-year-old, eventually becomes the topic of tough conversations between family members as their lives begin to ebb.
I try to look for the upside in witnessing my Mother aging. I don’t find much but there have been two bright lights to make note of. The first is the strength and unity amongst my siblings and I. We have come together seamlessly, taking on different roles to make sure our Mom is well cared for. However, that is only a testament to how we were raised. Growing up, we observed my mom take amazing care of her aging parents. She demonstrated such deep dedication and commitment that we all have thankfully inherited.
The second bright light is my newfound awareness of my own life, and how I want to age into it. Like everyone else, I want to make the most of my time-limited existence. None of us can truly determine what our life is going to look like in the future. Nonetheless, I don’t want to get to the end of my life and feel that the past was the best part of it. I want to joyfully look upon yesteryear, while still living a life with purpose, on purpose. That light beam of goodness is what digs me out of the trenches most days, knowing how I want to architect my golden years (Lord willing).
So, if you currently find yourself in the trenches with me, observing your parent(s) age, having these same thoughts and conversations with yourself and others – well, just know that I see you.
I see you talking to your parent’s doctors, advocating for better treatment
I see you being a nudge, making sure they’re eating and taking their meds
I see you getting them up and out, so isolation doesn’t set in
I see you slowing down your step, so they can keep up
I see you repeating yourself several times, because their memory is not what it used to be
I see you trying to make a joke about all of the crazy things that bodies do, just to see them laugh
I see you wide awake at night, stressing what the future entails, and if you’re doing everything you can for them, in the present
I see your tears, and how quickly they’re wiped away, because you’re the caregiver now and need to remain strong and positive
I see you frightened, knowing that safety net that once was so secure, has now been threatened.
I see you.
Janis Gaudelli is The Founder of The Daily Feels. She started this passion project to reveal the magic behind storytelling, and how truth-based narratives bring people together in the most heart-warming of ways. Fascinated by soul, depth, intellect, raw truths and rebellion with a cause. Often captivated by the awe of nature: star gazing, moon manifesting, sunset chasing, waves crashing, crickets singing. Fiercely curious about the inner-workings of the human psyche… she professionally studies human behavior for a living. Forever proud and grateful for being a mom to the force that fuels her life: her 8-year-old son, and greatest professor, Kellan.