Although I do have siblings, said siblings do not have a relationship with my parents. Is this unusual, well not for my family. This is the norm and while those around me might sometimes look at me like I have two heads when I speak of them, the reality is that sometimes our blood family members are just not as close to us as our friends, who we bring into our circle.
This whole thought process was brought about after speaking with an old friend last weekend. Her mother has had health issues for as long as I can remember but until recently, they were managable. Now there is talk that she might have Parkinsons and Dementia. I can tell when I am talking to my friend that she is stressed about this and scared. Sure, she works in the healthcare industry but when these things hit this close to home, that is when things get dicey.
I began to think about my parents and any potential health issues that might come up down the road but then I stopped and thought, wait, I can’t be old enough yet to be worrying about this! We can’t be old enough to start worrying about any of this. I had to imagine just four years ago what my life would be like without my dad in it. The year before he had been diagnosed with Diabetes and then right before Memorial Day weekend he said he felt funny and wanted to go to the emergency room.
We were lucky, he didn’t have a heart attack but there were three blockages; as I sat helpless in Nashville trying to get some work done I kept waiting for mom to call me with updates. It started with they can put stints in and ended with triple bypass surgery. They had him medicated, transferred to a hospital in Chattanooga and he was resting comfortably. He asked me to wait until Sunday to head down there because he thought I needed to stay home and try to enjoy part of my weekend. I was miserable. I kept thinking about the what ifs and how much I wanted him to see me get married and to meet his hypothetical grandchildren. The surgery went fine but those 24 hours surronding the surgery were complete hell.
I haven’t really worried since then about having to care for my parents but after talking to my friend; I started to worry. Would I be able to care for them, would I be able to make the tough decisions and respect their wishes. Would they be willing, if God forbid, something really bad happened to move here, to Nashville.
I know I complain about my parents but overall, we have a good relationship. They were a bit strict when I was younger but since I have been on my own for what seems like forever now, they are cool about my comings and goings when I visit. But having to see my friend deal with this has been gut wrenching and knowing that her father who has always taken wonderful care of her mother is now dealing with something more complicated than low blood pressure or back pain.
She is quite lucky to have a wonderful sister and extended family that will rally around them should this turn down a hard path but then I went back to my first statement: “Although I do have siblings, said siblings do not have a relationship with my parents.” I will be their sole provider and that scares me. In fact, I don’t think my sister will be interested in them until they pass and it will only be to see what she gets out of the deal. It’s quite shitty to say but it is the truth.
So I guess I really am that old, old enough to know that there is a limited amount of time I have with my parents and that makes me feel sad. All I can really do right now is make the most out of it, do things for them, try not to piss them off to much and alievate any concerns they might have about my supporting myself. I think I can handle that.