When we moved from Ohio to Charlotte 20 years ago, it was difficult being so far away from our family. No longer could we just hop in the car and drive an hour to Mom and Dad’s for a weekend meal. No longer could Grandma drive down to pinch hit as caregiver for our son, Colin, when he was sick and needed to stay home from school. No longer could Dad come down for an afternoon to help with a home repair, nor could I do the same for him. I felt so guilty that we were moving so far away from Sherry’s and my parents. And especially guilty because we were moving Colin so far away from his grandparents.
Compared to many families today, I think I was lucky. I grew up in the same small town where my grandparents lived. We all went to the same church. We would often have meals together. My brothers and I would frequently stay overnight at both of our grandmother’s homes. I can still smell Wisie Grandma’s homemade bread (“Wisie Grandma” is what we called her. Her last name was Wiseman.). And I can still smell the aroma of freshly cooked chicken that Shifley Grandma would turn into, what she called, chicken pot pie (really like chicken and dumplings, but with flat squares of dough cooked with onions, shredded chicken meat, and a few potatoes in the chicken broth). Mmmmmm…
And I remember, when both Grandma’s were aging and needed extra care, the challenges that my parents and my aunts and uncles dealt with, as they lovingly helped my grandparents stay at home as long as possible. I know it was not easy for them.
Now, my parents are nearing the ages when my grandparents began needing extra care. They’ll each be 94 in a couple weeks, and have been living independently, in the house they built before they were married—the house in which my brothers and I grew up. And it’s getting harder for them to do the things they used to do. But that’s the case for all of us as we age, isn’t it?
I was helping Colin move some stone patio pavers from another friend’s house last night. Each paver wasn’t that heavy. But the collective toll of moving 2 ½ pallets of pavers by hand is evident today. The messages that my body is sending my brain indicate that there are several muscles I don’t use on a regular basis, and maybe haven’t in a long time!
We all age. We all go through stages in life.
I’m finding it interesting right now, how my life is somewhat similar to what my parents were going through 20+ years ago. And like what Colin might have to go through some day.
Mom’s mobility has been pretty limited the last few years. And a couple of weeks ago, she had knee replacement surgery. That’s hard for anyone, but especially so for someone who’s 94. Dad’s lives with back pain and the possibility of more back surgery. And his domestic responsibilities have increased, as Mom’s ability to do things has decreased. But they both have worked hard to continue living independently.
Many people have gone through similar situations—both as the care receiver and as a care giver. But when it’s the first time for YOU going through it, it’s a challenge. And if you’re trying to offer help from several states away, it’s a little more of a challenge. Even so, my brothers and I are glad to help in whatever ways we can (thank goodness for phones, flights, and Facetime!). For our parents have been taking care of us, from the moment of our first breaths in this world.
Interesting how the cycles of life continue from generation to generation, isn’t it? And yet, while our lives change, there is One who remains constant—nurturing, sustaining, and caring for us all, from our first breath to our last.
I will be your God throughout your lifetime—
until your hair is white with age.
I made you, and I will care for you.
I will carry you along and save you. (Isaiah 46:4)
If you are caring for aging parents (near or far away) and have interest in being part of a small group of people who are dealing with similar situations, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Christ’s love,