My parents are aging
While that statement seems obvious the fact remains that this year I have noticed it more then ever. My step-mother wears a sling after shoulder surgery and my father is doing 100% of the housework as she can't even straighten her arm for at least another week. But my stepfather has it even worse. A few years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder. Surgery was performed and he bounced back quickly. But tests revealed it again this summer and he went back under the knife in early November. But this time he isn't coming back so quickly. He has been in and out of the hospital, and had his temperature soar once to 104F. He's looked and sounded a lot better for the last couple weeks, and was even able to go to brunch with us today. I think he'll pull all the way out of this one, but now more then ever I can see darker times coming.
I've seen this before. I put myself through college working at a nursing homes. Elderly people get sick, and most of the time they bounce back quickly, but sooner or later they don't. You get into a see-saw of get a little better, take a step backward. It's not the sickness that gets you down so much as the see-saw, the inability to make an real progress before another step backward takes it away. It wears out their spirit, and they get weaker because getting up and going is good for the body as much as the soul. And it's a cruel way to go, a way where you're unable to do the things that give life it's joy, and often in pain. I sometimes ask God to make a Decision, that when someone gets really bad to either take him or send him back. Really the best way to check out is to go to bed and wake up dead. We all act surprised that Tom went, him being so healthy and all, but Tom got it right. He didn't suffer. His loved ones didn't have to spend months flying back and forth or holding vigils. He just left.
Personally, I'll be glad to have my stepfather back, but I'm now more then ever aware that the next few years will sooner or later involve emergency travel and sorting through personal effects. I'm lucky really, I've had healthy parents for over fifty years now, and not many can say that. We've enjoyed many a wonderful Christmas together, shared a good meal and joys. But for the first time I now recognize that each and every Holiday may be the last. That each minute, movie or meal we share might be the one I'll remember. And I also realize that no matter how many we have shared, it can never be enough.