“Mommy, this mommy looks like you. Mom…why did you stop reading?” I was reading “Love You Forever” to my 6 year old. I was fighting tears and couldn’t get out another word. And I was only on the first few pages. It was all too much and feeling too real.
My dad, a completely unstoppable courageous man, was in the hospital and not doing well. He could not talk and was barely opening his eyes. He did not even respond to me when I called him “Dad”. I called his first name loudly, to which he opened his eyes briefly and closed them again. His doctors believed his condition was related to his seizures but were not sure why he was not recovering quickly. This was happening way too soon. My dad was only 60 years old. My mom, who was usually asking how she could help us, was now being asked by us how we could help her.
It’s a strange thing when roles start changing and when they start reversing. There are seemingly endless days in which our parents carry us and provide all of our needs. We slowly grow up and fly from the nest. One day, we begin to notice what had been slowly creeping up on us the entire time: our parents are getting older. It’s a painful, quiet transition I wish I could stop. But the transition is the fulfillment of a life filled with love.
We began discussing who was going to the hospital and when and how long we could sit with my dad. Did my mom need us to get her mail or mow the lawn? Did she need anything from the grocery store? As hard as it is to see our parents age, it’s even harder for them to rely on the ones they once looked after. The ones they once rocked to sleep. At the end of the day, I would hear the exhaustion in my mom’s voice telling me all the updates of what the doctors said and how she thought my dad was doing. I hoped that my dad would recover miraculously but also that my mom would feel the support and love from her kids. That she could feel the reward of raising kids that loved them back and were strong enough to lean upon. Before I would go to bed, I would rock my baby while nursing her to sleep. Hoping and praying that I’m loving her right, and wishing to put life on pause. Knowing one day that she’ll be my grown daughter looking out for me, taking care of me, and maybe even holding me. No matter how grown she is, my heart will always sing “as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”
Quote taken from “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch