If you’re like me, you usually have an unending to-do list rumbling around in your brain, providing no quarter from the busy pace of life. As for me, I am trying to finish up a new record, get networked in with the local business community, wrap up three concurrent online courses, keep up on social media, finish distributing bark mulch around our property to slow down the weeds–all that plus provide home support for my awesome wife who is up to her armpits in alligators working on her master’s degree.
Then something happens that forces you to put everything on hold.
If you happen to be a Baby Boomer, like me, then you have aging parents. I am blessed to still have both my parents–dad and mom are 88 and 86 respectively. My dad was very sick for most of 2010, but for the most part, recovered. Ever since then, I dread getting “the call”. You know it’s going to come sooner or later, and a couple of Sundays ago it came from my sister. Long story short, my dad wound up in the hospital for a few days with a urinary tract infection and then transfered to a rehab facility where they discovered he developed a slight case of pneumonia. Any type of infection is enough to wipe my dad out since he is so frail. They are waiting for the antibiotics to do their work as well as giving him physical therapy so he can recover enough strength to return home.
Meanwhile, my brother and I are taking turns caring for our mom, who has trouble getting around. We have been staying with her at the house overnight, preparing meals, and driving her to and from the rehab facility to visit dad. I live 100 miles away by car or I can take a ferry; either way it’s at least a 2-hour journey. Recently my dad decided to drop internet service at his house since he was no longer using it. Consequently, I get to sleep in my own bed only every other night. All of these things are inconvenient.
All to say, I now have about a third of the time I used to have to work on my to-do list, and to be honest, it’s sometimes challenging to have a good attitude about it. But what can I do about it? Nothing. I have to roll with it. And I have to adjust my attitude when it gets stinky. I love my parents and I want the best for them. Currently, the attention we are giving our mom is paying off by helping her get stronger and more self-sufficient, and dad is in the care of medical professional who are helping him get stronger.
This episode is improving their fragile quality of life a little bit, so it is worth it. Normally, I get so busy I don’t spend enough time with my parents, primarily because I don’t live close enough to just drop by. So life on hold reminds me of how much they mean to me. And the to-do list? I will just need to sort that out somehow. This will not be the last time I get one of those calls until it truly is the last time, and I’m thankful that we’re not there yet.