March 12, 2010

Approaching the Limit

Visiting my parents, our pace is turtle-like, but that's the way of the older folks, and I'm fine with that. They let my husband and I pay for lunch today--a first--as they have always liked to remain in the Parent-slot, paying for things, taking care of me, their fourth daughter in a family of seven children.

My mother is sick with a bad cough, and she looks so tiny, sitting in her chair, exhausted from coughing and a too-strong dose of cough medicine from last night which has left her a bit groggy. She is silent a lot today--another first--as she has always held her own in our fast-moving conversations. Dad is a bit more compulsive about things, and I have to tell him, in a good-natured way, to sit and let the dishes be dirty for a few minutes while we talk. He lets my pasta dish remain solo on the table, which I think about does him in, his need for tidiness and order having increased dramatically since our last visit. He's the only driver in the house. She can hear well, even my whisper to my husband in a sotto voce, while he cranks up the hearing aids. He can see like a hawk, while she can't read the numbers on the microwave.

I can see that they're approaching their outer limits of independent living in some ways, which is sad. I seem to think that in my mind they'll be here forever and forever and I'll be scheduling little trips to see them and stay in their condo. Somehow I can't imagine this not being available to me, but rationally I know it won't be. Time to enjoy it while I can--so I'm not going down to Salt Lake tomorrow to see my sister, but instead will stay here and cook Seafood Scallop Gumbo because my mother wants me to.

I ask if they have any mending they want done, what technology problems are bugging them, how can I help? They've got this life of theirs down pretty pat, but it just feels little more precarious than before.

And I'm just not ready for them to go.

SOLSC Day 13. Click to return.


  1. You captured your thoughts well. I enjoyed reading your post.

  2. What a lovely piece...anyone who has had an elderly loved one will identify with this...I immediately thought of grandparents long gone and a mother-in-law dearly loved.

  3. Your thoughts and feelings connected with me.

  4. I connected with your words having walked this path over the past few years and having said good by to my father in January. I felt heartbreak at times, but also felt wonderful waves of gratitude for what I had with my parents. Keep writing--I found it helps.

  5. This can be a sad phase of life, but you seem to be making it meaningful for yourself and for them, and that is what you can do. I hope your mother's cough gets better soon.

  6. I think living "away" makes it just a little bit harder. We don't see them getting old gradually, and it feels more sudden. My parents are only in their 60's so it isn't the same, but I know it will be some day.

    PS: You are in Ogden? Have they started the temple reno yet?

  7. I can relate like many in this group. I am watching my parents continue to age, wondering how one will fare without the other, and how long they will continue to be able to drive to meet us halfway for lunch at a diner.
    Powerful slice Elizabeth,