Watching the two people who raised me, held onto sticky hands as I took those first tottering steps on chubby legs, were the gleeful recipients of my first toothless smiles, become timeworn leaves me with a dull ache inside. The people who loved me, cared for me, sacrificed for me, put up with my teenage bullshit, now declining in health, mobility, and cognizant functioning. This is about watching the two once vibrant and youthful adults who caused fear and trembling inside of me, especially my Dad, and how this saddens yet gives me hope about the future.
My parents are involved in many various activities back home in Florida. They play cards, travel, are in the German and the Polish Clubs back home. They both can still move around on their own albeit slowly. This brings me joy. I love seeing my parents fully enjoying their senior years. They are not sitting around their home in some wooden rocking chair waiting to die.
I watch the two people that were infallible in my eyes as a child, insufferable as a teen, and inadequate as a young adult become wise as a middle-aged woman. We all understand that aging is a rite of passage that not everyone is blessed to pass through. Sometimes our bodies mock us in the process, wrecking havoc on the mind as well. They may walk with hesitant steps, for one misstep could land them in the hospital with a broken hip or worse. I can close my eyes, though, and easily recall the times my Dad and I went on long bike rides. I remember when he was strong and full of energy. But now hair graying, thinning, and well, balding, the advance of time takes pity on no one.
But no matter how we look at the transition from youth to agedness: a goal, a wish, a dream, or a gift, we all must pass through those darkened corridors, hopefully not alone though. Aging can be frightening going it on your own, being a widow or a widower. How comforting it is to have someone else along for the ride. Yet I am thankful and truly blessed to still be able to enjoy my parents while, unfortunately, so many of my peers cannot. We will all be bruised and battered by what life throws our way, but no matter how cracked and worn it becomes, we can call each day a gift at the end of the day and pray that tomorrow will be another new chance to make things better for yourself and for others around you.