About Your Aging Parents

Don’t start writing a post about your aging parents with Johnny Cash’s cover of Danny Boy playing in your ears.

Not because it is not a fine song, but because it sets a more somber tone than you might want to start with.

That is because your blog is the tool you used to get through the time when your father lay in a hospital bed thousands of miles away from you.

Because you flew there and back praying that he would still be alive when you landed having been told it could go either way.

And though it is 12 years later and dad proved the doubters wrong you haven’t ever forgotten seeing his unconscious body breathe because machines were keeping him alive.

Most days you don’t focus on those moments because when you are with him you see the same spark in his eyes you always have and know that your father is present.

Present in his presence it is clear his mind is as active as it ever was and you hear him talk about plans for the future so you know what his intention is.

But there are little things, little moments that make it clear that his body isn’t always agreeable about the things he wants and tries to do.

It might not be a full blown mutiny, but there is dissension in the ranks and in some ways his health is very similar to a house of cards.

Steiner the minor doesn’t know that I look at the bull elephant in the picture above and recognize similarities between my father and him.

Go about your business and everything is ok, but the moment you become a threat life might get very ugly for you.

Those few of you who know me well might even recognize some similar traits in me and now you know why.

He taught me what it means to be a person, a man and a father.

And he did it in spite of my being a major pain-in-the-ass who knew more than he did.

I only have two kids at home to deal with, he had me and my four sisters.

Once I became a dad it didn’t take me very long to recognize I had a lot less on my plate to deal with than he did.

He hasn’t ever mentioned it but I am not surprised. It is not who he is.

Now And Then

I missed the poker game with the boys this past Friday night. Wanted to go but the craziness of the current moment in time left me exhausted and I just wanted to be somewhere quiet.

Wanted to go but the craziness of the current moment in time left me exhausted and I just wanted to be somewhere quiet.

Part of me wonders if that was a mistake because we all need time with the people who know us best and it would have been good to see the guys.

We would have sat around the table and told some of the same silly stories we like to tell and then we would have spent a few catching up on current events in our lives.

Twenty-five years ago we probably wouldn’t have scheduled the game for a Friday night.

That would have been date night for those of us who had a girl in our lives or “let’s try to find a girl for our life” night.

Twenty-five years again almost all of us had two parents now some of have lost one or in some cases both.

Now our conversations sometimes include comments about having become the new sandwich generation.

We take care of our kids and look out for our parents.

My parents had dinner with us Sunday night and I got another close-up of seeing how time and age has impacted them.

Neuropathy in dad’s feet has made walking a little more challenging at times for him.

Since he doesn’t have much feeling in them anymore he is not as sure footed as he once was and walking stairs or going up/down hills has become trickier.

I try to make a point to casually wander over to him so that he can put his hand on my shoulder to help with his balance.

A few years ago he would have told me to get lost but he never does anymore. Neither one of us make a big deal about it because it wouldn’t make things any better if we did.

I suppose the move has made me more aware of some age-related issues too.

It is about six weeks roughly since they moved out of the house I grew up in into their new place.

They are mostly unpacked but there are still things on the “to-do” list that have lingered there far longer than they would have in the old days.

Things that would have been unacceptable had they not been handled in a timely fashion are listed on there because they get tired much faster than they used to.

It is not a huge deal to me, but it is noticeable.

And I won’t lie and say I wasn’t pleased to get a telephone call from mom asking me to come help move stuff because she wanted my father to “stop doing things he shouldn’t be doing.”

It is 50 some years since my parents met as Peace Corps volunteers.

They have traveled all over the world, fostered children in their home and done more than most.

It has been a pretty good life so far and I expect to see it go on for a good long while because there are more stories and adventures to be had.

But like I alluded to above, sometimes there is a little whisper in my head that tells me to pay close attention because the end is closer to the beginning.

Still I remind myself that seventy-something years isn’t particularly old for our family and that genetically speaking we might get another 25 years or so.

Here is hoping that all that can go right does and that all that can go wrong loses their address.

Originally published at www.thejackb.com on March 21, 2016.

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