December 24, 2015
Bronson Commons, Mattawan, MI
Front: Bruce and Audrey
Back: Alayna, Grandson Travis, Granddaughter Kirsten, Chase
My parents, ages 85 and 90, are still in my life and live about thirty minutes away from me. I am happy that I am available to help them when they need it. Their health has had setbacks over the past few months and I find myself helping them as much as I can. Since September, my parents have had a mini-stroke, four emergency room visits, two (one for each of them) hospital stays, and a three week stay in a rehab center for a broken hip and hand.
Instead of looking at the things I haven't been able to do, I chose to look at the benefits I have received from spending time with them. First, I have gotten to know my parents in a way that I wouldn't have known before this. I have seen personality traits in my parents that make me proud. I have seen my mom's determination to overcome her broken bones. My mom never gave up. She broke a bone in her dominant, left, hand. She learned how to do things for herself with her right hand. She worked hard to learn to walk again after her broken hip. She is home after three weeks of rehab and with the help of a walker, she is getting better each day. I hope that I have some of that determination if a health crisis strikes me.
Also, I experienced the love that my parents have for each other. I saw the emotion in my dad's eyes when he had to spend almost a month without my mom being at home. My dad was having trouble with spinal stenosis at the time and couldn't drive which isolated him even more. Luckily, my parents raised their children to be caregivers. My brother, Neil, traveled from Allen, Texas around Thanksgiving to help my parents. My sister, Nancy, traveled from Spokane, Washington to stay with my dad while my mom was in rehab. I, for one, was extremely thankful for their visits.
I have used my time with my parents not only to help them, but to get to know them and their history better. For example, when my brother was here, my dad was talking about a golf club that he has had for eighty years. It was the first one he used when he started golfing. I had no idea he still had it! He wants his youngest grandson, Lord Stanley, to have it. I will make sure it gets to him.
My mom decided she would no longer decorate for Christmas like she use to. I went through her boxes of decorations with her. She kept some to put out each year and wanted me to get rid of the rest. I couldn't get rid of them without going through them, it was like a trip down memory lane. I found the tree topper that I remember being on the tree when I was a child. Many ornaments reminded me of my childhood. My mother was very good at labeling gifts that were given to her. I made separate boxes for my siblings of gifts they or their children had given her. My brother-in-law, Scott, picked up four Rubbermaid boxes of decorations to distribute to my siblings. I am sure they will reminisce as they go through them.
Other time spent with my parents was spent listening. You never know when a memory or story from their past will surface. I have heard my mom talk about her Christmas as a child, my dad talk about his war experience, and many other stories that I am trying to write down to save.
I have chosen this time to create memories. I know my parents won't live forever and I never want to say, "I wish I had asked my mom about..." or I wish I had asked my dad about..." I plan to use every moment I have getting all those questions answered. I choose to love and honor my parents' memories by sharing their stories with generations to come. One day I will return to blogging and just think of the stories I will have to tell because of this time I am honored to share with my parents. I look at these health setbacks as an opportunity not as a struggle.