The other day, I heard my Mother laughing and it reminded me of my Grandmother. Immediately, I was taken back to those afternoons after school that were spent with my Grandparents, the holidays when we gathered at their home and my Grandmother made her positively delicious Mirliton dressing, laughter and my Grandfathers' favorite Christmas music wafting through the house.
There were mornings when my Grandmother made silver dollar pancakes and when I close my eyes and imagine, I can still smell them cooking on the stove.
I have not had pancakes like hers since the last time she made them for me.
These memories, and many more, have helped me to hold my Grandparents close to my heart even though they have both been gone from this world for a few years now. I was so very blessed to have so many years with them. My children were blessed that they had time to spend with them as well.
Now, my children are making their own memories with their Grandparents, my Mother and Father, and I know just how precious those memories will come to be as the years go by.
I watch my parents as they get older and I wonder, will they continue to be in stable health. I look at them sometimes and I notice their frailties. I see the difference between now and just a few years ago. I watch my Mother and I think to myself, is this how SHE felt while watching her own Mother get older.
In these moments, I am reminded of my OWN mortality and will my children watch me grow older and reflect upon the changes that may occur with my physical or mental health. What will they think about as I age?
My parents are relatively healthy, my Father, having survived and recovered from a stroke some years ago. My Mother, still spry in spite of her daily battle with a heredity arthritic condition. They both, at this time, can care for themselves and for that, I am thankful. At the ages of 75 and 74, respectively, they lead fairly active lives.
But, the question here isn't what they are like NOW. The question is:
AM I CAPABLE ENOUGH, STRONG ENOUGH, TO HANDLE THE AGING OF MY PARENTS?
While my brother and I have been blessed with a Mother and Father who have aged well thus far, truth is that can change at any moment. I am not asking for that to occur, nor am I expecting it, but, we weren't expecting my Father's stroke a few years ago either.
All you need is a split second and life changes.
I take it upon myself, as their only Daughter, to have the responsibility of watching over them and caring for them, as they get older. While I often question if I am mentally prepared to deal with anything that may occur, I know that I am committed to being PRESENT, come good or catastrophe.
I am taking in as much of them as I can now: listening closer as my Mother fusses or complains about one thing or another. My Father, talking about his younger days or laughing about this or that while he sips his whiskey.
The days when they are just sitting together, chatting about this or that, my Father listening but not really, because he's heard it all in their almost 56 years of marriage. This is the time of my parents that I MOST enjoy. These are the times that I will reflect upon in my own aging years and be grateful that I was able to have them.
Right here, right now, the times we laugh, the times we talk. The times I listen to them reminisce about being a young, married couple. The times we sit down and watch Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune and try to figure out the answers together. The times I eavesdrop on him and my mom watching Judge Judy or whomever on television and my mom asks my Father 'How can you watch this shit everyday!' Of course, he ignores her and just keeps watching, having grown used to her complaining about this or that.
It's in these times as well that I am taken back to mornings spent with my Grandparents, silver dollar pancakes, my Grandfather's Lucky Strikes lit up by his sterling silver lighter and my Grandmother telling us to be quiet because Young and The Restless is about to come on.
In the time of my parents, I wonder what they think about getting older. Are they scared. Do they wonder if their children and grandchildren will be okay if anything happens to them. Do they reminisce about their aging parents and recall what it was like for them.
The time will come. Eventually. But, that time isn't right now. So, I will continue to listen intently while my Mother laughs and watch my Father sip his whiskey and store these precious memories in my mind and take them up again when the time comes.