Caring for Our Parents; We Owe It To Them
April 25, 2017 at midnight
As teenagers and young adults, we often associate our parents with strength and maturity. They start as pillars of our existence, ever-present anchors keeping us from drifting. Before we ourselves mature, we also tend to see them in an unfavorable light too. They pester and nag us: to take out the trash, to clean our room and do our homework. We bicker and protest and feel that they just 'don't get us'.
At a young age, when immaturity leads to self-absorption, we fail to see that their actions are driven by their love for us, that they always mean well. In a way, our perception of parents continues to lag throughout our lives. In our eyes, they continue to project that strength we've seen when we were little. But old age and all that it entails sneaks up on them and leaves us with the sudden realization that time can be unforgiving.
Adulthood comes with a degree of independence. We're free to make our own decisions and set our own priorities. We build families of our own and take on more responsibilities. We raise our own children and try our best to care for them and guide them.
In the ever-changing chaos of adult life, our parents tend to fade a little into the background and the bond between us grows weaker. We call them when we find the time, visit them on holidays and sometimes have them over to see their grandkids. We keep them up to date and they do the same, but we often can't tell just how old they're getting before something happens.
That something can be forgetfulness. They might leave the water running or the stove on. They might forget to take their medication. Eventually, a doctor's appointment can be the bearer of bad news, revealing one health problem or the other. As time goes by, the elderly reach a point when long-term care is needed. A point when we realize that our parents have grown old.
The Right Thing To Do
The realization is then followed by a decision. Do we leave the long-term care on the shoulders of professionals in some retirement community or provide it ourselves. While professionals are certainly equipped to provide care, as competent as they might be, they can't provide the much-needed element of love.
After all, our parents didn't send us to boarding school when we were little. They remained a presence in our lives and tried their very best to shelter and guide us until we could fend for ourselves. As the wheel of time turns, the roles become reversed and we become their anchors in their time of need.
Whether we realize it or not, we owe our parents, not only our existence but also our upbringing. They were the ones who changed our diapers, took us to the doctor, stepped on our pointy lego pieces on the living room rug, made sure we stayed in school and out of trouble. Now we have to repay them by offering them the same love and care that they offered us and allow them to spend their twilight years surrounded by their children, just like we would want to be surrounded by ours.