“What happened to your parents’ garage?” Mike asked over dinner one night.
“What do you mean?” I twirled spaghetti noodles around my fork, wondering where this was going.
“The side is kind of splintered, like something ran into it.”
After dinner, I hiked down the alley separating our two homes to have a look. Yup, something had definitely splintered the side of the garage entrance. After some sleuthing, we discovered my dad had taken the turn into the garage too wide and scraped the front bumper of their Jeep along the door jamb.
“A momentary lapse,” he and my mom assured us.
Looking back, I realize how easy it is to turn away from what’s in front of us. Things like our parents getting older, losing their ability to drive, or becoming ill. I slipped into denial, refusing to believe my parents’ situation would ever change. In my mind they were the young, thin, vibrant people of my childhood.
“Swing me, Daddy! Throw me into bed again.”
“Mommy, let’s go on a bike ride.”
In the spring of the caregiving season, denial is our companion. Changes happen so slowly that we don’t realize it until we take look at our loved ones with fresh eyes. It hurts to see them as they’ve become. No longer our invincible heroes, they’re now gray-haired and a little stooped over. They get tired easily. They won’t drive at night. Declines in vision, cognitive function and physical abilities affect many older adults as well.
“No matter what the relationship was between the parent and child—whatever it was—this is going to be extremely challenging because it is not logical. There’s no way to deal with it rationally or directly. You don’t reason it out. What I’ve said to so many people is: we always must lead with our love.”
― Dr. Stephen Hoag, A Son’s Handbook: Bringing Up Mom with Alzheimer’s
I knew Dad had been having some issues with weakness and pain in his legs, but I didn’t realize it had become that bad. Fear swept over me, as did a premonition that life would become very different in the near future. Was there more to this than just a small fender bender?
As Christians, we don’t want to take lightly God’s command in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” (NIV)
This blog will explore how to honor our parents, while learning to parent our elderly parents with the dignity they deserve.
Are you caring for an aging loved one? Do you feel alone in your journey? It’s easy to become isolated, weary, and burned out. We need to know we’re not alone, and to learn from those who’ve gone before us.