When Time Reverses

While it is a wonderment to watch our children grow up, the other side of the coin is that the rest of us are aging as well. It’s hard enough to get used to the aging process of our own bodies. We can only try to take those aches and pains with grace rather than moans and groans. The old backs, knees, hips, and shoulders act up. And the memory thing…what happened to that? Worse than our own gripes with Mother Nature and Father Time, is watching our parents battle the scars of the aging process. At times, it puts us in helpless situations due to distance or responsibility to our jobs and family living with us.

It is hard to come to terms with the fact that we’re not capable of doing all the things we once were. Time slows us down. Things that were once simple for us become daunting tasks. That said, those things are even more difficult for our parents. It’s hard for them to face the fact that they are no longer capable of doing the things they once did. And it’s even harder to ask for help.

I have people in my own family circles that have reached the point of having to be cared for due to declining physical conditions. It can be a hardship in deciding on the care for the people you love. Families make sacrifices, and those in question make sacrifices as well. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to depend on others for your needs.

I realize we are probably not too far off with some of these decisions for my parents. A little over a year ago, my father climbed the roof to clean it off. Take in mind that he is eighty years old. It is a tin roof and he slid. His leg was twisted and he was hanging/dangling over a concrete ledge going to the basement. He screamed for my mother whose health is not well. She somehow managed to pick up the heavy ladder and move it to the part of the house he was on. Still, he couldn’t untwist his legs to reach the ladder. Fortunately, there was someone working on the property who heard her screams and ran to rescue my father. The year before that he decided to burn off his garden as he had done every season before. This time the flames got away from him. He tried lugging buckets of water to extinguish the flames. In the process, he suffered a mild bit of smoke inhalation and singed his hair and eye brows. Fortunately, someone driving down the road saw it and called the fire department. They live out in the country so it takes a while for responders. Thankfully, there are good people in the community that do come to the rescue during crisis’s.

There was the time a few years back that my father was at the store and came home to find the fire department in their yard. The chimney had caught on fire while my mother was there alone. I think a neighbor helped out in this instance and also tended to my mother’s health vitals. My father was petrified when he saw that. He thought he had lost his wife. Of course, my mother was as equally scared having gone through the ordeal. Fortunately there was no loss of life or property, just a very shaken older couple.

As grown children, we concern ourselves with the safety, health, and well being of our aging parents. Much of the time, we are limited as to what we can do or provide for them. And they are bound by pride in accepting help or gifts. It is the times in between those decisions that lead up to changes for the care of our parents that we find how grateful we are to other family members, neighbors, and community. And while we currently struggle to make proper decisions for those that we love, we keep in mind that someday those same decisions will be made for us by our children.

45 thoughts on “When Time Reverses

  1. Having been there with my in-laws and my father it is a tough road. When my dad had his stroke and he refused to go to the hospital I looked at him and said the following ” Remember when you said to Grandpa that the roles are reversed now”. Well guess what! He was going whether he like it or not. But it was hard to stand up and argue with him over it. But in the end you simply must be willing to fight the fights that you feel are in their best interest.

    • It is hard to stand up to them because we almost feel like we are defying them. Distance makes it a bit more difficult. I’m only four hours away, but that doesn’t help in the day to day details. They do fairly well as long as they don’t try to do big things…determining what is too large to handle seems to be more of the problem.

  2. Pingback: When Time Reverses (via The Water Witch’s Daughter) « Duke1959's Blog

  3. Reading this reminded me of what my mother went through with her father having Alzheimer’s. It was so bittersweet to watch her tenderly care for him; while she was trying to process her own acceptance.

    Beautifully written post, Suzi!

    Thank you so much for sharing this.


    • I think Alzheimers is the hardest thing to deal with because in a sense you lose the person long before you lose the body of the person. I’ve had friends who’ve had to deal with it and it has been difficult. Thank you, Ron.

  4. Yes, now that I am over 50, I think of this often.

    I will be on the other side before you know it. What am I modeling for my children to see? As far as how I show love and care for the elderly in our family. B/C it’ll be me very soon.

  5. It’s tricky, this thing you’ve articulated. I want my father and step-mother to remain their independent selves living in a remote location…but they do get themselves into pickles from time to time. I feel like this is their story to write. I help when they want me.

    I want to write a different story for my children, one in which pride plays a lesser role. I don’t value that independent thing so highly. I like community and depending on people…sharing burdens and joys.

  6. Aging, uh, that. Well, I’ve opted out, thank you. What do you mean I can’t?

    What a heartwarming story of your parents’ experiences getting through crises in their elder years. I was a young woman when talking with my grandmother on the phone. I told her how mysterious it was that a trail of smoke was emanating from my fireplace wall. I laughed. She told me in no uncertain terms that my house was on fire! I could scarcely believe it, but I called the fire department. Indeed, she was right. They put out the fire with little damage to the house. Insurance money fixed it. Had I not been on the phone with my grandmother, who knows if I’d have even seen the small trail of smoke, something like the thin stream from a lit cigarette. She may have saved our lives. Blessings to you…

  7. My aunt is in her late 80’s and still living in her home. Her kids are trying to persuade her to move to an apartment in a senior complex but she refuses. She is still fairly active, but still, she would be better off in a more secure environment. I frankly hope I don’t live long enough to place a burden on my kids.

    • My 98 year old friend still lives in an upstairs apt. Her knees give her difficulty going up and down the stairs, and she can hardly see, but she says she’d assume day as move. She feels that if her independence is taken away, so is her life. She is so afraid her family will put her in a nursing home, so she tries to hide how terrible her vision is. Her fear of being put in a home breaks my heart.

  8. I hate watching my parents grow old. I love them so much. My mom’s always saying, “It’s the process of life, sweetie. You got to accept it and enjoy it.”

  9. I lived this with my father and I am so afraid to watch my mom grow old. I know it is inevitable for all of us, but it does not make the watching part any easier.

  10. My mom is the only female of seven kids and she was the one who took on the bulk of caring for her parents when their health started declining. My parents have thought about this for themselves and have systems in place in case, but my sister and I are going to helping them through no matter what.

    • My mother claims she will never live with or burden her children as she puts it…we’d much rather her live with one of us when the time comes than put her in a nursing home…hopefully we won’t have to make that decision for either of them any time soon.

  11. A beautiful post! I am so lucky that my 70 year old mother has wonderful neighbors, since I am 45 miles away.

    One time, her neighbor Erin called me and said “I just wanted to let you know that there is an ambulance in front of your Mom’s house and I am heading over there!”

    I called my mom, and all I could hear was laughter – I finally said “Mom – why is there an ambulance in front of your house?!”

    Turns out she was trying on her mother’s wedding ring because she was having a different ring made with the stone. It got stuck, and try as she might, she couldn’t get it off.

    She called the non-emergency line and asked if she could come over to see if they had strong sissors to cut the ring off, and they insisted on sending an ambulance. She was so embarrassed!

    • This is a great story. Thanks for sharing it. I’ll bet you were freaking out just a bit until you heard your mom’s voice n the phone. Sounds like she has a great neighbor.

  12. Very well said! My parents are in their early 60s and I recently had a conversation with my dad about aging. He said something very compelling to me. I asked him if he’s afraid of aging and he said, “Nah. There’s always the alternative so I’ll take aging any day. My only problem with the whole process is that my brain has never caught up to my body. In here (pointing to his head) I’m still in my twenties. That has to be the most frustrating part of the whole thing.” I think I’ll always envision my parents as their thirty-something selves up to their elbows in pinochle cards and cigarettes every Friday night with their good friends while us kids pieced together a puzzle. 🙂


      • I never regard being in my 20s as any advantage at this point in time. Instead I always remind myself that soon I will become a grand old lady too and that makes me grounded and look at things with a worldview. And that is why I feel sorry for the people my age who act and behave as if they’re immortal youths. Sure being young is fantastic, and crediting it for the stupid stunts you pull are a lot of fun. But as we all know, life is short, and it’s just really a matter of how you define things and what your priorities are. I say let’s grow up without growing old 🙂

      • I understand that very well. My minnd still says I’m a teenager sometimes but my body begs to differ. And I know how you feel. I think we have discussed manytimes how frustrating it is to be so far away and not be able to help more and yet some that are closer seem to not notice.

  13. Ugh, it’s hard to get older but I think it’s even harder to watch our parents, who we once thought were invincible, get older too. And I’m still 19, remember? Well, plus a few years.

    • Seriously, I don’t have any problem with my age…wouldn’t want to go back. I tell my kids that I’ve earned every grey hair and wrinkle I have…or maybe I say they caused them LOL!

  14. Thanks, this hit home … every day I realize how time really does reverse. My parents are both very ill and have been for a long while. We have been trying to help them live at home, but it gets harder and harder. They have still not made decisions even though we have asked those tough questions more than once … and I am dreading the day they are no longer capable of answering them and we are forced to do it for them. Parents and children switching places.
    I have no kids … so, there will be no one for me to reverse places with when I am old .. guess I better make my decisions for myself before the answers are needed.

  15. Yes, we have several aging members of our family as well. My wife’s grandfather, who is widowed and a WWII vet, is nearing the point that he won’t have a choice about living by himself hours away from his family. He knows it and it makes him sad thinking about leaving the house that he built 60 years ago.

  16. Often old people get labeled as grumpy. “Grumpy ol’ man/woman.” When my friend’s grandmother was ill and unable to do for herself she started biting people. And it dawned on me that people who cannot do for themselves, people who can not longer do what they used to do, must get frustrated and angry. So I somewhat think that the “grumpy ol’ people” are grumpy (some of them) because.

    I am happy that your parents have neighbors that step in when they see something amiss.

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