When it comes to “only-children” I think most people assume it’s all silver-spoons and spoilt-brats. Well that’s half the truth…
Being one myself, I can speak of the other side to being a single offspring. Parents. It’s a no-brainer, one of me and two of them. So as they age, my responsibilities in relation to my parents increase quite significantly.
Admittedly my parents are great for their age, both physically and mentally, however at 76 and 87 it’s reasonable to expect a few health dramas. The other thing that comes into play is the fact that my parents divorced long ago and hence are in two separate geographic locations, with my dad remarried and my mum remaining single. (Again on that score we’re pretty lucky, not only do my parents get on well together now, we all live within 15 minutes of each other.)
But the fact remains, they’re getting older and slowing down, right at the time when my own family life with two boys and a husband is going at full-pace and my own body is starting to tease me with hints of potential menopause.
I’ve clearly missed a chapter in the Book-of-Life.
I read the one about growing up without actually absorbing any of the words, because I already knew everything.
I read the one about relationships, and clearly didn’t pay attention.
I read the one about rearing children, and did the opposite.
I’ve started on the chapter about coming to terms with my own ageing process… but nowhere does it seem to discuss the role-reversal that occurs between parent and child later in life.
So I’m going to assume that life has great faith in me. Life is assuming that I’ve read it’s book so well that I’ll just breeze on through this next bit. Life hasn’t said I can’t write my own chapter in, so that’s pretty much what I’m doing.
My parents and I have good communications between each other, so establishing some do’s and don’ts wasn’t too hard. For instance, when it comes to death and funerals – we’ve had that discussion and I know exactly what my parents want. The only exceptions to this discussion are the following:
Mum has stated that if she “loses-it” mentally she intends to fill a pair of Prada boots with cement and jump off a pier. I know she means it, because when I asked her if she was kidding she replied, “No! I’ve already bought the weights to insert in my shoes”.
Dad on the other hand has a far more practical approach. He’s told me that he’s going to find out when he’s going to die and simply not show up. That, coming from a man who claims he’s too old to buy green bananas, may not be as silly as it sounds.
Then there’s the day-to-day health care management. Dad has a wife, so we kind of share what we can in relation to his needs. However, getting him to take medication can be difficult at times, as my Dad has a fear of what taking too many pills might do to him. Well, my Mum came to the rescue on that one. She quite plainly said to Dad when we were gathered all together for dinner one night, “Dennis. If the doctor wants you to take something, then take it. You’re too old to become addicted to anything because you won’t live long enough for that to happen”.
Mum has her own little foibles too. My favorite is this. Most old-folk now have ‘special-notes’ on their hospital or doctors charts relating to things that range from diet to “do not resuscitate”. On my Mum’s it is clearly written in bold “DO NOT DISCLOSE WEIGHT INFORMATION TO PATIENT”. They have to weigh you when you go in for an operation and other matters, and quite simply, Mum no longer wishes to know how much she weighs. Her explanation, “I’m too old to care what I weigh anymore, I know which clothes fit and which don’t and my diet is very healthy, so please don’t tell me”.
I’m beginning to think that perhaps there was a good reason I didn’t need to read about this part of life… just look at the example being set for me!
[ this post was first and originally posted on my first blog Schnicka Writes on Blogger ]