There is a brief moment between moving from caring for your growing children and caring for your aging parents, that is, if you are lucky. Our primary focus for the last 21 years has been our children. The kids consume so much of your time but more important your mental focus. As a parent, I was admittedly overprotective. As much time as we spent at the ball parks, school programs, libraries, and doing homework, it pales in comparison to the countless hours of worry. The worries change over the years. They go from worrying that they are healthy and developing on time to worrying that the siren you just heard isn't your teen driver in a wreck. It is a constant fear in the back of your mind, at least it has been for me.
That has changed lately. For our own sanity, we have learned to let go. We have learned that thanks to the cell phones that we have provided them, they will call if there is a problem. We have learned that we don't need to talk to them 100 times a day, although we would still like to. We have learned that we have raised pretty, smart kids who make pretty good decisions, for the most part anyway! We are so very proud of them. We trust them to make their own choices without our incessant attempts to control everything. Even more so, we want them to make their own choices. We know, as much as we have tried to fight it, that the most valuable lessons in life are ones made from our own mistakes. So finally, we can relax a little and stop worrying, right? Wrong.
Now, once again, the worries change. Now we worry about our aging parents. We have relied on their advice and wisdom (just since we were about 25, until then we knew it all, lol). More and more we have learned to appreciate the fact that whenever you need someone, mom and dad are ALWAYS there. I personally have learned that no matter how much you think you are holding it together when your life is fallling apart, just hearing your mom's voice somehow magically opens the tear faucet.
The last few years I have started to see a decline in my parent's health. My mom has developed a head tremor. Her doctor says it is stress. I am so worried it is more. My mom just turned 62. My grandmother died at 65. I know that is no indication that my mom will too, but is always in the back of my head. My dad is starting to forget things. Alot of people don't notice, but I do. I try to talk to him several times a week. I notice he forgets things and he has a harder time understanding what I am trying to tell him. I'll just tell you, it will devastate me if I lose my parents. My dad is my step dad. I hate that title, because he is the ONLY father I have ever known. I am watching a friend go through losing her dad as we speak. She tries to hold it together, but I can see the pain and fear in her eyes. I am praying for her. We will all be there someday, if you haven't already. I am going to try to enjoy as much time as I can with my parents. I know there will be sadness when they are gone. Heck, I can't even write about it without these tears. So I want to create as many fun memories as I can while I still have the chance.
One of my mom's (and mine) favorite memories is of a trip to Clingman's Dome. I don't know what in the world my papaw had eaten, but he had gas like you would not believe. Every single step up the side of that mountain was paired with a fart! Not a silent one, but one of those squeaky ones! What made the memory so vivid was not the gas, but the laughter that went with it. My papaw was an easy going guy that didn't care which way the wind blew. Oh and how he loved to laugh! He thought those farts was the funniest thing ever. He absolutely cried from laughing so hard all the way up that mountain. As you know, laughter is contaigous, so my grandmother, my parents, my sister & I, and complete strangers had a fabulous day laughing at my papaw's farts. It was fantastic!!!! It was also something I will never forget. I already have some of those crazy memories with my parents. I will share with you later. My parents are a whoot!
Each life has a cycle. As we travel through this life, we know that soon it will be us being the grandparents, hopefully I can continue to love life and laugh like my papaw did. It will be our children worrying about our health. There has been so many times to worry and be afraid for the people you love. But that is not all that life has to offer. So in the middle of the worries, take time to laugh! It will make the tough times easier.