I am acutely away that as we age the natural order of life includes the death of our parents.

No matter how old we are and no matter how old our parents are when they pass, it’s too soon. My 50 year old sister-in-law tearfully sobbed that, although she felt foolish saying it, when her mother died, she felt like an orphan. I nodded my head in agreement but I had absolutely no understanding of the depth of her grief, pain and longing for her now deceased mother’s love. As sad as it is to admit, it’s only when you become a member of this non-enviable club can you truly empathize and understand what my sister-in-law meant.

A parent’s love is special, unconditional, and eternal. There is no one else on the planet whose eyes light up when their child walks into the room. There is no one else who worries that their child is having a good day regardless of how old she or he is and if the parent could they would send out the Calvary to help their child.

I know that not all parents have the ability or capability to win the “parent of the month” award because some parents have had to deal with their own trials in life. It is well documented that wounded people cannot always rise to the challenges that lay before them. I do believe that children even adult children are hard wired to look past those wounds as they want and/or need their parents love. Children of all ages will go to great lengths to receive it even if the outcome is not what they hoped for.

I do believe that the majority of parents love their children and whether they are rich or poor, educated or non-educated provide a nest in which their children feel like they belong As we get older the roles often reverse as the miracles of modern medicine have extended the aging process. It is now very normal for 65 year old “seniors” to have their “90” year old parents not only alive but thriving and in many cases living on their own. That being said, there are also instances where 65 year old seniors are having to make painful decisions about the care and support of their parents who may be afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s, cancer or other end of life issues. A myriad of emotions transcend rationale thinking. Any decision is hard even when things are going well. A 65 year old senior lives in New York and the independent super-senior parent lives in Florida and is doing well except for a couple of trips to the emergency room each year. Unexpected trips to Florida become an expectation regardless of work schedules, vacations or any other plans that are on the horizon. Feelings of exasperation, annoyance impatience and even rage swell to the surface as your life is now in turmoil. As you rush to your parent’s side, your heart melts as you see them wrapped in a hospital blanket on the larger than life stretcher. The only feelings that come bubbling to the surface are immeasurable relief, gratitude and immense blessings knowing that your parent is safe. At that moment you realize that no matter what it takes you will make this situation work.

Mobilizing resources has to be part of the plan. There are many agencies that offer guidance, support, adult day care, respite care and just plain advice. Staying positive, being part of a community and knowing when to ask for help will reap untold rewards. It’s a common adage that it takes a village to raise a child. As life gets more complex, let’s amend that thought, it takes a village to get through this thing called life.

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