When I was a child I thought my parents would always be there. It never occurred to me that I would someday grow up and they would grow older. My parents were young when they married--only 16 and 17--and then they were parents of two children before they were 20, and four by the time they were 25. I made them grandparents when they were in their early 40's. I didn't realize how young they were until I raised my own children. At 54 I am still waiting to be a grandmother. Having now reached their 70's, they are beginning to slow down a bit. And have health issues.
Funny. I remember my grandparents on both sides having health problems but I guess I never really thought it would happen to my parents.
My mom is the healthiest 72-year-old I have ever known. She keeps herself active and trim with a sensible diet, exercise, gardening, and yard work. So we were all blindsided when she received a diagnosis of cancer just after Christmas last year. Breast cancer. Thank God she had gone for the mammogram she dreaded. The "ductal carcinoma in situ" was caught before it became life-threatening.
After a lumpectomy and four weeks of daily radiation treatments she is back to her usual routine.
But the whole episode threw our family for a loop. Cancer. So close. And now when I and my sisters fill out medical forms we have to check yes, there is breast cancer in our family history. You can bet we will never miss a mammogram.
Then another whammy hit our family. At 73, Daddy stays active as a small business owner working on lawn mowers and golf carts in his backyard shop. He moves slowly these days because of bum knees, but surgery could help that. He just hasn't decided to do it yet. He is also a Type 2 diabetic, but he monitors it well and takes his medicine. So when he landed in the hospital with an infected foot caused by him digging on an ingrown toenail, we all paid attention.
The doctors ordered intravenous antibiotics and kept him on those for five days before finally releasing him. We took turns taking Mom back and forth to visit him every day. It was a wake-up call for him and the rest of us. He is taking his diabetes more seriously, and Mom is paying more attention to the meals she prepares for him. I was also diagnosed with diabetes five years ago but am not on medication at this time. As a result of Daddy's situation, I have resolved to start exercising and eating better.
Realizing that your parents won't live forever is tough. I mean, you know it down deep in your heart but believe it is a long way off. This year I have realized that my mom and dad won't be here with me forever. I have to resign myself to that fact. There are no guarantees that I will outlive them, but there is one sure thing. God has "appointed unto men once to die" (Hebrews 9:27). None of us will live forever. What to do? Make the best of what you have been given today, and love the family and friends God has given you.
My beautiful and stylish mom.
My handsome Dad on his golf cart with Lucy, who loves to ride with him.
Mom and Dad make a cute couple under their holly tree after a rare Texas snow.
Make it count. Show your loved ones you love them. You never know if today might be your last chance.