Saturday, October 13, 2007

Aging

I suppose I looked into my own future last Tuesday. What I saw left me with very mixed emotions.

Tuesday was moving day for my parents.

For over 30 years my mother and father have lived in the same wonderful home in Richardson, Texas. Before that, my growing up years were spent at another, much more modest Richardson house where we first moved in 1953.

I have incredibly fond memories of that time and of that house. My dad bought the vacant lot next door to the house and me and my buddies turned it into a ball field--football in the fall, baseball in the spring and summer and track year round! Mark Wallis, one of my best friends, and I played "Home Run Derby" on that field for hours at a time.

Fifty-four years in the same town. Believe it or not, they have had the same P. O. Box and the same phone number for all those years. Well, technically, in the early days their phone number had about 6 fewer numbers than today! We transferred the same number to their new home. Stability is something they have known very well across the years.

My dad is 87, my mom is 86.

They have enjoyed a really great life together. Next month they celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary. They have had their health problems over the past fifteen years or so, but have done very well until just recently.

Their house became more than they could manage. Their health has begun to decline markedly.

We've been talking about a move into a more "manageable environment" for a couple of years. My dad's last heart flare up and surgeries forced our hand.

As a result, on Tuesday they moved into an independent living facility in Richardson. It is a very nice, two-bedroom apartment with meals furnished, along with other important amenities.

They didn't want to move.

My approach was to keep them out of the actual moving process. We relocated furniture and other household items during the day. Once the place was set up as much like home as possible, we brought them over and let them come in for their first night.

My mother cried. My dad thanked us.

It was an emotional time beyond words.

For the past two weeks, as he had regained his strength, dad has rehearsed his career--his stint as the first full-time executive with City of Richardson (1953-1959) back when the population was about 1,200. The entire city staff included him, a water department worker and a sanitation worker.

He reviewed the details of his career with the private development company he helped build. Until his most recent hospitalization, he was still going to the office one day a week. The owner of the company and one of my dad's very best friends died about two years ago.

My mom has been worried, depressed and up and down. It is how she handles disruptions like my dad's health issues. Of course, she suffers with her arthritis and gout, as well as several other health-related issues that remain both troublesome and chronic. Night before last she entered the hospital for a blood transfusion and other treatment. We're hoping she gets to come home today after a couple of nights there.

It is a tough time emotionally, as well as physically. . . for all of us.

So many memories came flooding back during the past several days.

I've been so very blessed by my parents and by the life they provided me. It is hard seeing them near the end of their journey. They are blessed with everything they need to make the process as pleasant as it can be, I suppose. Pray for them.

Going through this experience forces me to consider my own future, should I live so long. It's definitely a mixed bag. But, overall, the positive far outweighs the momentary negative.

One thing stands out to me in a huge way: my privilege is overwhelming.

I am thinking of my parents again this morning.

I'm also thinking of the elderly poor who are at about the same juncture in life as my folks, but without all of the blessings and benefits.

Life is a mystery. But many things are very, very clear to me as I look back and forward.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Your parents are examples to us all. They were some of the first people I met while visiting RE, and their genuine love and compassion was obvious. I especially appreciate the way they have loved on my wife. God bless them.

Iron-Man said...

Very touching story. I do not know them, but I have an elderly Mom. I hope she will have such a wonderful situation when she gets older.