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A question that has been brewing for a season now.
In my mind and in my heart.
Many of us who are in the sandwich generation between grand children and senior parents are torn between the care of both.
Senior parents add a dimension of life we are not yet familiar with.
We struggle with what was years ago and what is right now.
Memories dim and parents don’t often remember the child they once loved and cared for.
Memories dim and parents don’t often see or are not aware of the depth of care the child is giving to them now in their aged years.
For some of us it is hard to see the parent who was once strong and able become frail and unable.
What do we do in these situations and how are we supposed to feel?
Sometimes it would seem right to feel ‘resentment’ or ‘guilt’ depending on which side the care taking we are sitting on.
Why is it when we are almost retired and anxiously waiting to do something fun for ourselves finally. We become strapped into a care giving role again.
That is they way life is I guess.
When we are young parents we care for our children and we give up our ‘fun days’ for the sake of their needs.
When we are mid parent ages with teenagers we can leave and often do but not without worry or concern and strings attached to rules given and strictly enforced.
When we are mid aged caregivers we reach beyond our days and care for the senior parents who no longer can care for themselves.
Even if they live in assisted living homes they still need monitored and watched and observed and listened to and helped throughout a long day.
The path between ability and disability is shortened often by a diagnosis of cancer or dementia or age related diseases.
For a season now I have often wondered how it feels to be the child caring for a parent when the roles reverse themselves.
I watch my sister feed our mother and noticed how comical yet so sad it was as age and it’s issues bring change for both of them.
I watch my husband and his dad who is 90 and the way the son makes sure the fathers coat is buttoned or the hat is on correctly to warm a balding head.
It is all about caring and giving and role reversals and change.
The parent with little children is not free to do what they want anytime they want and the child with aging parents isn’t all that different either.
A free day does not mean the phone won’t ring and a fall doesn’t happen or a new need arises.
Time is not always kind to us and one day the reality of their passing will be here.
That day will come with mixed emotions when it ends for all of us.
Freedom doesn’t happen without a cost.
We give of ourselves.
We go out of our way and we give up some things because it is the right thing to do.
Never knowing when the role will end.
Never knowing when the phone call will happen to say it is over for them and for us.
Then it seems not too long after that as the years move forward the role reversal will begin again and we will become the senior parent and our children will become the caretakers giving up their time so that we can be comfortable and loved.
When the roles reverse themselves the only thing we can do is remember life is fragile and soon all we will have is memories.