I had the honor of holding the door open to the other side for both my mom and my dad. Dad was terrified of the thought of living without His wife of 68 years, and in her last days on this plane Mom wore a haunted expression of one that is aware of her imminent leaving.
As the only child it was up to me alone to learn how to assist them to their respective continuation days. The question was how could I hold the door open for them when I was so full of fear myself?
I missed my parents even before they left. In the bliss of euphoric recall my childhood took on a golden glow of unshakeable care for what seemed like forever. I knew nothing else, I didn’t know there was anything else until much, much later. There was always a place to go home to, no matter that I never did. Just the thought of the support back there was enough to sustain me through the bad times far from home.
Of course I knew intellectually this family relationship was far from perfect, that would have been a fairytale. Relationships are messy and uncomfortable , we were no different than billions of other families but it was happening in my family now.
We all grieve in respect for
our cultural norms. I began to feel like an orphan even before the process began. The thought that they could no longer save me from myself was a shock . I came to that realization with a sick feeling on a chilly midnight, sitting in the pharmacy with my pyjama top tucked into my jeans.
The phone had shrilled on my bedside table and I woke already sitting up. Midnight calls are like air raid sirens. They strike terror into a heart that knows even at rest what
it ‘s waiting for, it’s purely visceral. Of course it was my dad asking me to go and pick up an emergency prescription for mom. His voice was quivering from exhaustion and fear. It was hard being a caregiver at his age. Being the only child made us a caregiving team, looking after a stubborn mom who refused to go into a care home. She knew she would never come out again. It was a death watch and the three of us knew it.
I was impatient as I sat waiting in the all night pharmacy. It was all about me. I watched the night people eying me, gauging my possible receptivity for a handout. I glared at them and they skittered away. Then as I settled in to wait for my mother’s drugs I realized I was a grown up.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I could make a living amends to them both right now!! Payback for all the pain I had thoughtlessly caused them throughout my life. I could honour them, take responsibility and smooth the way for them. Be the one they could lean on instead of the other way around. Suddenly the self pity melted away. Who cares if I’m tired at work tomorrow! This is the miracle! In one instant my whole attitude changed. I would be a tower of strength for them.
It was a spiritual awakening sitting in a hard plastic chair with glaring fluorescents accentuating the dingy floor. I am an adult child! Who would have ever thought!