Yesterday was illuminating in ways I never expected.
Friends had us over for an evening bbq – their property boasts a great view of the local rockets’ glorious glare. John was the elder of the group, at 72, with the rest of us all 60-something. Two of them were discussing whether or not to take a particular medication, with their focus apparently on whether it would be as beneficial for warding off dementia as they’d heard.
Curious, I asked about why, in their 60s, they were already so focused on the possibility of dementia. “We don’t want to be a burden on our children.”
That left me jaw-dropped in surprise.
They’re not even into their seventies & already worrying about being a drain on their family, wanted to take proper precautions against heart disease, which ran in both their families. (I had a hard time not saying, “Well, for starters, you can have something more heart-friendly than grilled steak with a side of potatoes but no other veggies,” but held my tongue.)
It brought to mind another dear friend, a school mate, who also fretted a few weeks back about being a bother to their children. She explained – “Parents love their children more than children love their parents.” Like the other friends, this was a mother who had raised terrific kids who loved her to pieces. She, like them, is afraid of needing their support in the future. Am beginning to wonder if this fear is typical of the sixties or mere coincidence.
This is an area where John & I are clueless about parental fears. We weren’t blessed to have children – God apparently had different plans for us. It’s left me floundering to understand otherwise sane & reasonable people driven to attend to wants rather than needs, who apparently pandered to an adult child’s longtime weakness rather than showing tough love.
That’s just one of many aspects of parenting that’s forever outside our ken. But this whole thing of “I don’t want to be a burden on my children” from a contemporary of mine still has my brain reeling.
These are women who hold dear to their hearts the Ten Commandments. Yes, children don’t have the same natural love of their parents as their parents have for them. Most people seem to understand that only the rarest of rare parents don’t feel a deep personal connection to their offspring, a driving desire to protect them, sometimes at all costs. For parents, that desire to support seems implanted from the earliest moments, a bond that seems especially strong with mothers. For children, there is an admonition from God – and a promise.
“Honor your father & your mother, that YOUR days may be long (that you may prosper).”
All three women rolled their eyes & made it clear they think that it’s an issue I can never understand because I never had my own. But maybe it’s the other way around.
Perhaps they’re blinded by an all-encompassing love that feels – at least in their case – let down by the fact the children don’t have the same love of Mom & Dad. But we are told that, in spite of that, they are MEANT to be there for their parents, even when it is a huge bother & even intense inconvenience.
The most brilliant illumination last night lit up my inner understanding.
Over the past week, I’ve pondered WHERE to focus my experience, insights, energies. My friends’ worries seem to paint a great big arrow pointing in the direction of right where my thoughts have been lingering of late – – on helping everyone embrace aging, from first breath to last, as a natural & naturally glorious evolution, with every moment filled with horn-to-hoof awareness that, whatever our circumstance or situation, what is happening, even if it seems to totally stink, is what is meant to be.
That might sound simplistic. It is. Oh, life isn’t easy. AND it is meant to be lived. Take precautions. Use medications wisely, without forgetting the basics of core good health practices like a wise diet to reduce known risks. And don’t fret. “Consider the lilies of the field….”
Am I unrealistically upbeat? I think not. I was there for my parents, especially my mother, when they needed support. It was often wrenching at times with Mom, looked to my friends like I wasn’t looking out for myself. But, ultimately, both Mom & I filled our parent/child roles; in her last few years, the two of us consciously came to our situation with love & a right attitude that acknowledged that when server & servee approach their situation from love honor respect those roles drop away & all that was left was service.
Last night, John & I went to our friends’ house looking forward to an evening sparkling with good friends, great food & awesome fireworks. I arrived home with a mind illuminated beyond my wildest imaginings. I’m meant to be a rocket of hope for people fearing what’s meant to be fabulous, even when it’s fiercely challenging. To dissipate dark foreboding with the illumination of WOW!