Thursday, March 31, 2011
I always had a love for older people. Maybe it was because of all the time we spent at Angela's as teenagers (when she was in her 80's and 90's). Maybe it was because, growing up in East Akron, there were no age boundaries in our church. We were friends with the youngest, the oldest and everyone in between. I love talking with elderly people, asking them questions, cracking jokes with them, getting emotional with them, just sitting and watching them! When I was getting ready to make a decision as to what my life's career path would be, I knew that it would be either elementary education or geriatrics....working with either the young, or the old. I choose to work with children because I didn't think I could handle becoming so attached to someone, only to know that it was a matter of time before they would die. My thoughts on aging are changing now. I have been forced to be an active participant in the struggles of the elderly - forced, meaning that no matter how hard you may try to pretend that the aging process is not affecting you or your loved ones, it truly is a reality. Fred's dad came back from a vacation in Phoenix where he was with my sister-in-law and her husband for several weeks. We were hoping that it would be a warm, sunny and relaxing time for all of them. It was not easy to hear Esther tell about the struggles they had with Dad while they were gone. It was tough for him to walk, to move around, to use bathrooms that were too small for him and a caregiver to occupy. The hardest thing though, was to hear that Dad didn't have memories about their place in Phoenix. It seems that there were a few moments of some recognition, but for the most part, he didn't remember that this was a place that was special for him and for Mom, and that they were there every year for many years. I was with Dad on Wednesday afternoon for several hours and I thought again about how helpful it would be if we could start our lives out as old people and work our way backwards so that NOW I could have the knowledge of how to serve my aged father-in-law the best. If I had already been old, I would know whether or not he appreciates my constant chattering or if he would like his shoulders rubbed. Maybe he would like me to tell stories of the kids or maybe he would like me to talk about places that he had been as a child. Maybe I would recognize what truly brings him joy and what would please him the most when I visit. I don't know these things, so I guess and sometimes I guess correctly and sometimes I realize that I'm heading down the wrong path and I just shut my mouth and sit quietly with him watching the birds at his birdfeeder. What I do know, is that I am learning to give him greater respect and to keep his dignity. I try to put myself in his shoes and I treat him the way that I hope my children will treat me some day. It seems as if most of the time that I am with him, he doesn't have a clue who I am (he knows that I am connected to him, but I don't think he knows how or why), but I still want him to know that he is loved and respected and has worth in his old age. And those are my latest thoughts on aging.
Monday, March 14, 2011
This is what happens when you give little boys a digital camera to play with so that you can have a decent conversation with other adults who are visiting. You never know what they will think is important to capture!