More on letting go…
It’s nearly Christmas and for the first time in probably 15 years, I’ll be spending it with my family. More specifically, with my 93 year-old parents.
While I’m looking forward to it, part of me dreads it. My mom is getting foggier and my dad is finally starting to slow down. The way to face your own mortality is to witness your parents’ aging process.
Spending time with them makes me grateful and uncomfortable; it’s a jumble of emotions. Tenderness, irritation, impatience, grace, humor, clarity, guilt, love, regret. Merry Christmas, eh?
I think that most of us are conflicted about our families, particularly if you left home and hometown, when you were young. When we return to the nest, we return and revert to our family ‘roles’. But, as our parents age, that doesn’t work any longer. We take on new roles as caretakers, helpers and decision makers. And that’s hard.
My parents still live on their own, in their house on 5 acres. In the past couple of years, we’ve bought them a generator to get through the various storms that plague the Midwest. We’ve encouraged them to think about downsizing into a retirement/assisted living facility. This means that every time we visit, we’re sent home with a lot of ‘stuff’; some of it ours, much of it theirs that they can’t bear to throw away.
We all collect so much over the years; not just physical, but emotional, including a lot of scar tissue. There comes a time to let it go. To wish it well and send it on its way. The last year has taught me much about letting go.
We moved and I said goodbye to a home and a place that I loved. We’re in a whole new environment a couple of time zones away from the old life. New people, new climate, new lifestyle, new city, new values, new problems.
We said goodbye to my beautiful and very much loved dog, Chili. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’m still aching over that loss.
So, I have empathy for my elderly parents. They are letting go of 93 years of memories, things, comfort, security. Very hard for them and for us as their children.
Sometimes things are ripped from us, when we least expect it and sometimes it’s a long, painful, introspective process. Either way, we eventually lose everything that we love and hold close. The human condition. Our biggest fear and our constant companion. It is truth.
And so, I look forward to Christmas with the family and will remain in close contact with my sense of humor in dealing with this phase of life. That’s something my parents, particularly my mom, instilled in me; in all of us.
I’ll also dig deep into my limited well of patience and understanding. I’m somewhat deficient in those qualities and the past 6 months has unfortunately drained me even more.
But, I’m grateful. To be back in my home state, close to my parents, with a new life and home and puppy, while retaining some of the former life that has been so hard to release.
Be well. Remember to be kind. Surround yourselves with who and what you love during this holiday season.