Watching my parents age, especially my father, is very instructive. OK, that’s the mild term for it. Nobody can watch their parents age without undergoing a whirlwind of emotions.
Just as we see so much of ourselves in our children, even our own hope for the future and carrying on our own legacy, so, too, we see so much of ourselves in our parents and we see them paving a path that bears our name on it, as well.
What I am mostly seeing now is my father unable to climb stairs or lift his foot high enough to get into the bathtub. Yes, simple things. Everyday movements. Things we take for granted without even giving it a second thought.I have never been afraid of dying (although I find it pretty surrealistic trying to imagine a world without me – not being interpreted through my own perspective), but I confess to being afraid of going old. I have always said that I don’t want to slowly waste away – just drop a piano on my head. I don’t even want to see it coming.
Of course, watching my parents lose their mobility stirs certain emotions in me.
But one surprising emotion that has appeared is gratitude. Yes. My father is showing me how blessed I am (and hopefully will remain for another half a century) to be able to walk without even thinking about it. To run. To jump. To chase my kids through the forest. To dig in the garden. To do my morning push-ups. Yes! Whatever you take for granted – that’s what deserves appreciating and cheering for the most.
And he is motivating me like nothing ever has before to keep fit. To not let fatigue or overscheduling keep me from at least carrying on some strength and flexibility exercises. This, too, is a very good thing.
NOTE: A previous article on self-esteem and aging gracefully that I wrote…um…how long ago? Gee, I’m racing toward my aging years a lightening speed!