Observing my parents as they’ve aged and my in-laws as well, I’ve wondered a few things.  In talking with other women my age, it seems they are wondering too…

Will I know when I’m too old to drive and willingly give up the keys?

Will I realize that I need to keep bathing so that I’m presentable and fresh?

Will I know that my clothes are dirty and unkempt?

I sure hope so…

Will I know when I need a cane and humbly grab one instead of stumbling around?

Will I realize I need help and ask for it, without feeling like a burden to my children?

Will I know that I’m losing my hearing and seek for aid, or grumble at the table?

I hope I will…

photo courtesy of Doug Gephardt

Will I know when to call it quits and when to keep pursuing…work and activity?

Will I realize that compliments to the younger generation are better than criticism?

Will I still know to give and expect nothing in return?

I wonder…

I know that my generation observed things in the older generation and made changes…for the better, I hope.  We talked more to our kids, loved our spouses better, and hopefully smiled a bit more.  But then, maybe the older generation had more reasons to frown (The Depression!) and were told to marry for money (The Depression!) and didn’t have skills like we do now.  I also know that I’ve made new mistakes with my kids, ones that hopefully they will correct with their children.

It’s maddening and frustrating when our elderly parents won’t listen to us, won’t realize they need help, and won’t stop letting those words fly out of an unfiltered mouth.  Can they help it?  If they’d known what we know now about God and life and love, and getting rid of bitterness and not letting it take root, and working on being teachable and not stubborn, could they be different now that they’re old?

We do not get to choose what ailments or shin splints we experience at the end of our race here on earth, although we can take care to stay as healthy as possible.  Because of hurdles and storms and others on the race beside us, there are sure to be wounds and scrapes near the end.  I can hardly bear to think about being a burden to my kids or realizing that they no longer enjoy my presence because I’m cantankerous and fragile.

We can sit and wonder all day if we are going to be able to change and be an asset and not an ass, and we still won’t know.  All I do know is that really want to be pliable and teachable and forgiving and loving, and I want to never stop learning and growing…and I hope that helps.

I pray for all of us in the throes of parenting our parents, a job that’s not fun or pleasant or pretty.  But then maybe that’s a hurdle and a curve in the track that we’re supposed to run so that we can become stronger and better and more loving and caring…just for them…and for those behind us.

Will I Know?
by Marcy Lytle

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