My younger sister called me last night quite upset. Our parents are both still living, aging, and not always actively making wise health choices. They live down south, enjoy the climate and the scenery, and manage to stay healthy most of the time.
Three weeks ago, my mom had a health episode that was quite scary for all of us. At the time, what we all initially thought was that she had had a heart attack. I was away from home for work at the time, and not being with my girls through such a scary ordeal was really isolating and upsetting. For part of those couple of days, I worried about whether or not we were going to lose my mom, if this was that moment that I worry and wonder about a lot lately.
But, it wasn’t. It wasn’t the time, nor was it a heart attack, or so the doctors told her. However, what a heart specialist did tell her at the hospital that day before she left, was that there was something that appeared troublesome on her ultrasound, and wanted her to have further testing. Both of my parents felt confident in this specialist’s ability, and both agreed to follow up.
The followup test was to have happened last week, and my mom had some kind of weird reaction to the dye that they used, so they couldn’t complete it. Her doctor is in the process of rescheduling it, but my mom has decided that she does not want to have it. She doesn’t need it. She feels fine. It WASN’T a heart attack, so basically, what is the big deal?????
My sister is really frantic. She is not much younger than me, but younger enough that she is not mentally prepared in ANY WAY to say goodbye to our folks, should the time come in the near future. I don’t feel like I am overwhelming ready myself, but I feel prepared. Does that make sense? I know that the emotions of it will seem overwhelming, I know that I will struggle through it, but I know that the time that we have left with them is less than what we have already. I feel like I am prepared because I feel like I have been preparing myself for months now.
My sister has such trouble accepting the fact that my mom, and my dad, for that matter, are making health care choices that they want to, especially because my sister knows it is not in their best interest. They are not doctors, she says. They are not qualified to say what medically might be wrong with them. She is right, they are not. Yet, they have free will. They DO have the capacity to say what it is they want, or don’t want, and they are exerting that free will. Regardless of what their grown up children think.
Is that a bad thing? It is when you are wearing the hat of a child, a grown child with children of your own, who you want to see grow up with their grandparents. A child who is living a life of her own, yet isn’t ready to say goodbye to her mom and her dad. It is if you envision that by making poor health choices, it could shorten the time that we all have together.
Yet, I tend to embrace the other side, or different side more these days. That my parents, as much as I adore them, am grateful to them, and will miss them SO MUCH when they have left this earth, are adults, free spirits. They have worked hard their entire lives, to give us whatever they could, and to now, give themselves a fun, relaxing retirement. In a climate that keeps them pain free and enjoying themselves. It feels like a weird fit, but a comfortable one for me. It just happened one day, I woke up, and felt prepared.
When I visited them a year ago, my mom took me to the local bank, to show me their safety deposit box, and all of the papers that I would need to know about for “when the time comes”. Of course, I hope that the “time” isn’t the same for both of them at once, but it was important to her, to show me. To tell me. To let me know, I trust you. You can handle this. At the time, I really thought she must be crazy. I cry at every occasion, I can’t stand saying goodbye to them after a visit, and I reminisce constantly over old movies and pictures.
Now, I know what she knew then. I am prepared. I knew when she got sick a couple of weeks ago. Although I don’t look forward to it at all, and will grieve very deeply, I am as prepared as I can be. I feel, in a way, at peace.
And, trusting God to care for them.