Taking Care of Parents

My son really upset me last night. I was in the middle of telling him about something that happened earlier in the day when he looked down at his phone and popped up with the sound of the teacher’s blah blah voice in the Charlie Brown animations. That immediately ended our conversation. He thought it was funny, a cute way to end a conversation in which he had no interest. He has done this before and I’ve gave him a look and continued on in spite of his action. Yesterday I refused. Even as I understand all of his reasons why, yesterday that action bothered me and yes, hurt my feelings. My son, is not me and I really can’t expect, should not expect him to act like me. Let me explain.

I listen to my parents. Even if I have no interest in what they are saying, I listen. Even if I’ve heard the same story many times, I listen. Even if what they are telling me is incorrect, I listen. It is partly because I am their daughter, their eldest child. It is partly because I know there will come a day when I will long for these conversations. It is largely because they are pretty much home bound and get very few visitors or phone calls leaving them with no one to converse with. Like everyone else, they crave conversation and interaction. Any member of the family that drops by finds that out quickly. The trick has been learning to watch for the signs of  their growing tired so to not over stay the visit, no matter how much my parents are enjoying the company.

My son knows that I am not home bound, I can get up, get in the car and go. While my parents do depend on me for a lot, they are not helpless.  If its a quick trip they will be fine. If it is a trip that may take a while, just make sure someone knows. My son has dragged me from the house kicking and screaming for a vacation, even after I have made sure every member of the family knows. It is my fault alone that leaves me sitting here with no one to converse with. And in all honesty, while it is close, it is not the same when you share text messages. Hearing a voice, having someone close makes a big difference.

I listen to the concerns my parents have. Listening to them ask why. My mother recently purchased a new stove as her old one was over thirty years old and showing the signs of wearing out. Her new stove did not come with a broiler pan and she wanted to know why not. Try as I might to explain that they no longer came with that pan she still wanted to hear it from where she bought the stove. I took her there and they told her the same thing. She accepted it from them. I wasn’t hurt or bothered, I didn’t sell her the stove so I wasn’t the one with the full explanation. But while she was there, she did learn more about the stove she purchased.

My son knows I have not only a better comprehension of how things are now, but also have access to finding out the things I don’t know. Search engines are an amazing thing. Smart phones are both a blessing and a curse. A blessing when you need information, a curse if you glue your face to one instead if interact with those around you.

I listen and watch as age and age related issues steal my parents away. I’ve heard the comment often that growing old is not for the weak. Neither is watching someone grow older. You remember them as they were and seeing what they are becoming is more than painful. They forget things. How to do things that once came so easily. Words in the middle of a sentence that just won’t come to mind. They realize that there are some things they can no longer do and it bothers them, remembering how once it was so easy. I and my family try so hard to be the support they need and help in a manner that doesn’t rob them of their dignity.

My son knows how stressed I get. The anger and frustration of not being able to stop the progression.He tries to make jokes. He tries in the only way he knows how, to help or distract or derail the rants of exasperation. Sometimes, his comments hurt, unintentionally. Even when my stories are long winded and boring.

I watch as their physical abilities change in other ways. They cannot walk as far as they once did, even the walking they do requires a cane. Visual perceptions are different. That trip to see why she didn’t get a broiler pan? As I was backing out of the parking space, trying to be careful because a much larger vehicle was partially blocking my vision of the way people should be approaching, mom suddenly screamed. I had turned my head just in time to look the other way seeing a large pick up truck turn in the wrong direction and was headed for us. Mom screamed and threw up her hands, I screamed because she scared me and the driver of the truck had already diverted to get into the lane they should have been in to begin with. Thanks to parking slots being empty. She thought the truck was “flying”, it wasn’t. But I still let it go, I didn’t argue, didn’t try to correct her. I just did what I could to calm her down as we continued on to our next stop.

My son gets annoyed when I misjudge traffic. I think he thinks I don’t trust his driving. He is an aggressive driver while I am more passive. Partly because I usually have one or both of my parents in the vehicle and its become a habit. He drives his car more often now when we go somewhere. It is his way for me to become more accustomed to his driving skills and learning to not over react to the way others drive around us. To be more alert and aware and less reactive. He is trying to prevent me from becoming my parents.

I watch my parents as they grow concerned over perceptions. Some that are real, some they believe to be real. Recently their dog was staring at the heat register in the sitting room. No matter how many times we checked, there was nothing to be seen. We heard no odd sounds. Then the next day the stray cat my mother had been feeding come up through the floor pushing the cover aside. The duct work to that register had fallen allowing the cat access. I’m sorry I missed the chase to get the cat back out of the house. My dad sees insects that none of the rest of us can see. Nothing we did got rid of the bugs.Rather than insist that there are no bugs, I mixed up a spray bottle with tap water and a few drops of essential oil. I told him to shake it up and mist near his bed. It isn’t toxic to anyone, it won’t explode, there are no chemicals to worry about. It works.

This morning  my son came in and asked if I had eaten yet. I had not so we ended up going to a local restaurant, one we haven’t been to in years. The service was amazing, the food was good, the cost pretty much what is going elsewhere. The best part though was the time spent with my son. After we got back my mother called to let me know that the new medicine the doctor had changed her to was ready. I waited until I knew they were back from lunch to get ready to go. My son decided to go as well. I got her medicine and picked up a couple things then headed for home. My son then began to cut up some fire wood for me. I had burned everything that would fit into the wood stove and the temperatures are reportedly going to drop. Together we managed to get a good stack of wood cut and stacked on the front porch. I brought a couple arm loads into the house.

I and my extended family are trying to take care of my parents. I listen to their stories and hear their needs. I respect their age and understand this is all a part of their growing older. My son does help me greatly, he is here for me. However he does not simply smile, nod and allow me to slip in the wrong direction. He is here for me, but yes, he is trying to stop me from becoming my parents.


About rebecca s revels

A writer, a photographer, a cancer survivor. An adventurer of the mild kind, a lover of the simple pleasures such as long walks and chocolate. A Christian unashamed of my faith and a friend who is dependable and will encourage readily. Author of three self published books with more waiting to find their way to paper. An advocate of good things, a fighter against wrongs.
This entry was posted in adventure, children, encouragement, family, growth, inspiration, life's journey, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Taking Care of Parents

  1. John says:

    That was uncalled for. Wow. My folks would be very upset with me…

    • He knew he messed up. I think that is why he spent so much of today making up for it. My folks would not have allowed me to do that in any form..

      • John says:

        I’m sorry for my comment, Rebecca. It was out of line. Maybe this is because I recall so clearly my mother slapping the **** out of my face as a teen, twice.

      • My son is so much like my late brother. At times more like him than his own son was/is. My brother could be downright cruel with his remarks, all in the name of humor, but then at one time dad could be as well. So it does get passed on down. My son does know though when he crossed the line with me and will apologize and make up for it as he does try to be a good son even on his bad days.

  2. Its fine John. I know you meant no harm.

  3. Thanks for the great insight. Patience and listening go a long way. I need to learn to do that more.


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