I’m at a stage of life when people around me have begun caring for their aging parents. Friends of mine check in on their folks daily to make sure everything is ok. They help them with their technology challenges, run errands for them, cook meals for them, schedule medical appointments. Some of my friends even support their parents financially or invite Mom & Pop to come live in their homes. They are starting to parent their parents. It seems fitting that they should return the favor after their parents took care of them for so long.
My parents still behave like parents. My 71 year old mother, who’s recovered beautifully from both shoulder and knee surgery within the past year, helps me out with something or other almost every week. Sometimes she brings over fully cooked meals when I’m too fatigued and weak to cook. She’s a fantastic cook, so my husband and kids are always thrilled. At other times she takes Riley home with her for a few days so I can have more time to rest. She also frequently replaces home decor that has become worn or has been destroyed by one of our animals, like the living room rug filled with holes from that time Riley tried to dig to China. She does all off this while also teaching yoga classes out of her home several times per week, keeping up with her own yoga practice, visiting an isolated elderly woman, spending time with my dad and with friends, and taking Dailey Method classes. She’s been on the board of several organizations and was a hospice care giver after taking a permanent break from her job in managed healthcare.
My father turns 87 in May and has way more energy than I do. He still works, practicing psychiatry part-time, going on rounds, and mentoring new psychiatrists. He plays tennis (as he has at the Golden Gate Park tennis courts for the past 50+ years), attends yoga classes, goes to the gym, reads his book club books (on which he takes copious notes), meets with his poker group and tinkles the ivories. He calls me regularly to check in and see how I’m feeling. He has always been one of my biggest champions and supporters, and I know it’s hard for him to see me unable to pursue many of my passions
I try to imagine what it must be like for my parents to bear witness to my suffering. To have to worry about the health of one of their adult children. At a time of life when most of my friends are helping their parents, mine don’t need my help. But I sure do need theirs. I’m grateful that they are able to help out so much, although I feel a bit guilty about it. I guess I am just their forever child.