We grow up looking at our parents as the strongest people in our world. They handle everything, they take care of everything, and they can do everything. Then you grow up and as you grow older, unfortunately so do they. Then one day you wake up and realize that your parents can no longer handle and take care of everything, and they are no longer to do everything. When that day comes it is a hard realization and it feels incredibly unsettling. You start to realize that it is you that is to have to be ready to handle things for them and take care of them. You realize that you are now going to have to be the strong one and that thought is incredibly intimidating. In your head you still think of yourself as the child and they are your parents, and deep down you want them to be strong because their being strong makes you feel safe and secure. But they can’t be strong anymore, and now they need you to be the strong one. They need you to be the one to make them feel safe and secure as they finish out the rest of their lives.
Saturday morning I was at home when my phone rang. It was my husband calling from his camping trip. He was up on the mountain hiking through the snow with a group of young men he had taken on a Scout camp. He sounded panicked, and if you knew my husband you would know that he NEVER panics about anything, so I knew something was horribly wrong. He said he had just gotten word that his mother had woken up that morning with amnesia. She couldn’t remember who she was or where she was. It became evident that she may very well be having a stroke. My husband wasn’t in a position to help until he could get down the mountain so he asked me to help. I jumped on the phones immediately and tracked his parents down. They were traveling on vacation when this happened and they were a ways out from a hospital. I was able to find a hospital and get my father-in-law directions to get mom to the nearest hospital to try and get immediate treatment. I knew that there was only a three hour window to get her to the ER if it was a stroke because there was a window for administering the medication she would need so time was of the essence. I alerted highway patrol to keep an eye out for an 82 year old man driving like a speed demon toward the hospital that was an hour away so they could escort him and get them their faster. Then I called the hospital and alerted them to the situation so when she arrived they could get her right in. No doubt it was a tense situation as we did all we could to get her to a hospital in time. My mother-in-law is an amazing woman and in perfect health, or so we thought. We had been worried about dad more than mom as she is 8 years younger than him, so it caught off guard to hear mom was the one sick. When they arrived at the ER they discovered that she had a mini-stroke, and luckily the clot dissolved before it did massive damage. But they let us know we needed to get her medical attention right away to make sure that this wasn’t indicative of major stroke that could possibly follow. They discharged her and my father-in-law drove them up to our house in Utah instead of continuing on to their vacation in Arizona. Monday we will start the process of getting her into the specialists to make sure she is going to be okay.
As my husband walked into the house, returning from his camp-out, the worry on his face was unlike anything I had seen before. It was an emotional moment for both of us. We both knew in that moment that our lives from now on will never be the same. We can no longer look at our parents as “the strong ones”. We both knew that from this point forward it is the two of us that need to be “the strong ones” for both our sets of parents. It made us both sad because we long for that time when we got to be the little kids who always had their parents to take care of everything. But we also knew that the best way we could show our parents how much we love and appreciate everything they have done and sacrificed for us over so many years was to give them the comfort of knowing that we will be strong for them and they needn’t worry about anything. And so that is what we intend to do. It is our turn to care for them and it is our honor and privilege to do so.
“Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, but beautiful old people are works of art.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
I am grateful for the beautiful works of art that both of my sets of parents are. I am truly blessed to have them.