As I type this, I sit in the hospital room my mother now occupies. She started hurting on Christmas Eve... she even went to the hospital. The doctor told her it was heartburn and sent her home. But she kept complaining of pain. That doctor made it sound as if she were milking it, so I chalked it up to her being old and grumpy. Maybe even a bid for attention. Only it wasn't. She had to have emergency surgery to remove her badly infected/blocked gallbladder the day before yesterday.
I've stayed with her 24/7. I've cleaned her up, helped her move, fed her, kept her comfortable.... all of the things she used to do for me... I now do these things for her. And although I know it's only temporary, that she'll heal and go back to being the sassy, grumpy old lady that she is, it's brought about a shift in how I view her. I've now seen her incapacitated, weak, and in need; which is something I've never seen before.
Although it hurt horribly when each one of my grandparents became old, sick, and then eventually passed away, I was prepared for it. To me they've always been old.... even when they were (around) my age, they were old to me. And I know it may sound terrible, but I knew that old people died. But my parents... well they're the people who raised and took care of me. They were always strong, always there, always in charge. Always ivincible. I no longer see either of them that way. Once you see that side of your parents, once you see them sick and/or helpless... it makes you realize that, sadly, their bodies will eventually break down, (hopefully later rather than sooner). You realize that they are mortal. And then it hits you... they will leave you one day.
Honestly, I don't think I could ever actually come to terms with that... with losing my parents. But I am now conscious of the fact that it will happen someday. I hate it, I really do. I know I won't have them forever, or even the rest of my life... but I will make sure that I spend all of the time I can with them, while I can. And I'll be there for them when they need me. Just as they were there for me when I needed them.
Photograph by: Me