Life the past few months has been a reminder that I am growing older, especially facing an empty nest. However, in all my focus to deal with seeing my own children grow older I have honestly lost sight of the fact that my own parents are also growing old…
My parents stopped by the other day to drop off a belated birthday gift since I had an out of town trip in Arizona on my actual birthday. After they finished visiting I watched as my parents leave my home and walked down my front steps toward their car. My father took my mother by the arm and slowly and carefully helped her step down the small steps of my porch.
As I watched them walk away it hit me really hard that my parents were growing old… it hit me almost by surprise, which is crazy because it’s not as if they have become old all at once. It has been happening slowly over the span of many years.
But because my own life has been going through so much transition and change due to my kids growing up and moving out over these last few years, I had somehow simply failed to notice just how much my own parents were aging… and it made me feel sad.
As a child you see your parents as these invincible adults. We see our dads as these big strong men who work hard, protect us, and just take care of things. We see our moms as our caretakers who are always there to make sure our needs are attended to and that we always know we are loved.
I don’t know about all of you but for all of my life when I looked at my parents they seemed to be frozen at the same age.
All through my growing up they looked the same age to me. Strong and energetic and young. That is how they have always seemed to me. Always, that is, until now.
Now I see a cute little white haired mom who is fragile and breakable, and I see a gray haired father who walks a little slower than he once did.
Both now in their mid 70s, the realization is finally hitting me that one day down the road (and I pray that it is many more years down the road still) these two people who have been the absolute rock and foundation for my life may no longer be on this earth with me.
It’s a thought I simply cannot imagine without breaking into tears. Even as I write this I can’t stop my eyes from welling up. I am not ready for the day to come when my parents are not with me anymore. I’m just not. They have been my guides and my anchor my entire life.
Whenever I need advice I always know I can call my dad, and whenever I need sympathy I know I can call my mom. And I don’t want to imagine a day when I can no longer pick up the phone and do that or when I can knock on their door and have them there to answer it.
Yet it is a reality that I need to start to remember so that I don’t allow myself to take one moment I have with them for granted.
I need to make more time to spend with my parents. I need to make it a priority to spend quality time with them.
I need to make sure I get their advice now on the things I should know for the future so I don’t waste my chance to get it while they are still both here with me.
I need to ask them to tell me more stories about their own life and all the lessons they have learned that might someday be helpful to me.
I need to make sure I let them know how much I love them and what they mean to me while they are still here to hear it in person.
Every one of you reading this blog have parents that are aging if you are still blessed enough to have them on this earth. No matter how old your parents are the reality is that any of us could lose our parents at any time.
Let’s all make an effort to make more time for them, express more love for them, and make sure they feel appreciated while we still have them with us.
About the Author:
AMY REES ANDERSON is a dynamic and engaging public speaker. She is also a frequent lecturer on college campuses around the country. When she is not speaking to audiences, she is doing one-on-one mentoring and consulting for entrepreneurs and high growth companies. She mentors companies on areas such as leadership, brand promotion, taking technology to market, product design, raising capital, and overcoming the challenges of growing a successful business. This article first appeared here.