My father is in his 70s and my mother will turn 70 this year. 70 doesn’t seem that old – probably because it feels like only yesterday when I was in my 20s – yet I am already halfway from that waypoint to the golden years myself. I can see, however, up close and personal, the effects 70 years of wear and tear is having on my folks.
They both have new, daunting diseases to rally against even as their bodies are slowing down and in some cases even breaking down. The physical vibrancy they both possessed in abundance not too long ago is now fading. And I know I will soon be transitioning into the role I watched my parents assume and carry out with their own parents in the recent past; that of caretaker.
The circle of life has never been more apparent to me and I know the cue for Yan and I to take the leading roles in our greater family’s saga is coming soon. Will we carry the burden well? Will we provide our parents with comfort? Will we protect their dignity and independence? Will we pass on their legacy to our children and our children’s’ future children?
I am confident the answer to all of those questions is yes but that doesn’t mean it’s not scary. It is. I don’t really want to evolve into the head of my extended family. That’s the job my parents have had for as long as I can remember. It makes me sad to realize that era is ending. But of course change is a part of life. Focusing on sadness and hiding from fear is not the way to deal with change. After all, every sad ending has an inherent, happy new beginning, too.
Cade and Ella will each be coming into their own as they watch Yan and me guide our multi-generational family through this transition. There will be sadness, no doubt, and fear too. But all of us will have another opportunity to embrace celebrating life through each and every wonderful stage, cherishing the precious moments we have with those we love. So while I work through my sadness, that thought, at least, gives me some measure of hope.