Everyone gets older every second of every day, it is the natural order of things.
But there comes a time as an adult when you notice the things you have always known as being the same, have changed.
Your aunts and uncles at the family reunion look different. They still have wondrous, youthful spirits and sharp minds, but they look different. Older.
And your mom. Your beautiful mom, your rock, your heart and soul that has always been there, doesn’t walk as well anymore. Her face and hair have changed. She’s embraced her natural highlights.
She is still beautiful inside and out, but the edges are a little rougher. Replacement knee surgery becomes necessary. More and more days of the week occupy the pill box.
You start to notice a few more ailments bit by bit. Some go away, some stay. And you see the struggles and frustrations of the heart and the mind as the body isn’t able to do as much as it used to.
You look at the face of your beautiful mother with a heart of gold, and though she is still very much alive and kicking, you know that one day it is all going to change. And a deep slow fear builds. It is coming.
Premature tears sting your eyes as you envision a day when it won’t be possible to pick up the phone and tell her a random something she would want to know about, or something she would find funny. You won’t hear that knowing laugh on the other end of the phone, and it won’t be possible to call her later.
And the world suddenly feels so huge and scary as you try to see it without your rock steady support that has always been there in the past.
And though you don’t rely on it every day as an adult, you try to figure out how you’d do life without the core support of your parents.
I am fortunate to have a closeness with my immediate family and a large extended family, but I see how losing a parent leaves a huge unsettling void. A nakedness and vulnerability of the soul.
Something that I only caught a slight glimpse of, as I watched my 60-year-old mom do the physical therapy stretches for her knee, and laugh with my toddler as he lay beside her, imitating her moves.
As I heard her laughter, my mind flashed back to all of the things in the past I wish I could take back. All of the rebellious things I said or did that did not honor her, and were often in spite of her. How did I not cherish this woman every single second of every day as she saved me from myself?
I shook my head and mourned my teen behaviors and the pain it must have caused her. If only we could see and appreciate what we have when we are young. But then I felt relief because she was here to see me come of age and get my head screwed back on straight.
I am so grateful for the wonderful, healthy relationship we have now.
I think of all the people close to my age that have already lost their parents and how hard it is for them. The dull ache and longing for just one more conversation, one more hug. What they wouldn’t give.
I know people who are going through the pain and heartache of caring for an aging parent. They speak of how painful and helpless it feels to watch a loved one deteriorate.
I also know people in the difficult space of caring for parents they don’t have the best relationship with.
It isn’t easy when our parents age. When we see the larger-than-life people we grew up with aren’t invincible, it’s hard to see them vulnerable.
What happens to the foundations of our beings when the ones that built them are gone? Can we stand on our own?
Can we carry on what they have passed to us?
I plan to have my mom here for forty more years. But even if neither one of us is promised tomorrow, we have a wealth of memories over the years made from loving well. My heart is content with at least that end of the deal.
For now, we have the gift of time. And on down the road when the time comes, I will go above and beyond for her, as she has done for me, and the many people that surround her.
And though more and more things will start to change in both her mirror and mine, my love, admiration and appreciation of her will stay the same.