Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Smack in the Middle

by Judy Merrill Larsen

My parents are arriving for a visit today. I'm really looking forward to having them here. I like them. They're fun and smart and easy to have around. (Well, as long as we don't try to discuss the upcoming election . . . .)

But, as I've been getting ready for their visit, I've realized how the tables are turning. And it all feels a little bittersweet.

My parents are still in excellent health (that sound you hear is me knocking on wood), but they're also getting older. We celebrated my dad's 80th birthday this past spring. My mom turned 78 in July. I know I'm lucky that they are still so mobile. I mean, heck, they're driving all the way to Missouri from California.

And there's the rub. When I was getting the guest room ready for them, I was careful to make sure there weren't things they could trip over. I worried that we don't have grab bars in the shower. I hope the stairs won't give them trouble. I bought new pillows and a comforter for the bed. Plus new reading lamps.

Years ago, my mom would come to help me out with my babies. Then, when the boys' school calendar was different than mine, she'd come to babysit them for their spring break (because I would still be teaching). I'd get home and all the laundry would be done and dinner would be cooking. Ironing that had piled up since her last visit would be hanging in my closet. She'd always slip me a crisp twenty dollar bill (or three) as she left.

A year ago, I went out to help them when my dad had to have surgery. And I cooked for them. And ran to the grocery store. Bought books I thought my dad would enjoy during his recovery.

I learned how to take care of them from them.

Just yesterday morning, when they called me from my uncle's, to firm up when they'd be arriving this afternoon, I told them to drive carefully. Gave them a few tips about the route they'd be taking.

And all day today, until they pull into my driveway, I'll be whispering little prayers and keeping my eye on the weather, just as they must have done more times than I can imagine when I was driving. And as I still do when my kids are behind the wheel, as I'll be doing (again) later this week, when my son will be driving 200 miles to come home from college to see his grandparents.

And I wonder, how did it all happen so fast? Where did the years go? When did I become the one worrying? The one looking out for and protecting?

I'm not quite ready, but I have to be.


Daisy said...

The sandwich generation. We worry about our parents and our kids. My mom had a TIA (ministroke) a few nights ago, and she is the exact age her mother was when she died. My mom is in much better health, so I keep hoping she'll be around longer. I still need her!

Barb McKone said...

I just had to tell my mom she could no longer drive to our house. So, for the rest of their lives, if they want to come to our house, we pick them up. Life sure changes, doesn't it? Here's to a great weekend with J. and B.- we LOVE them! Cutest parents ever!!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Daisy, I know what you mean about still needing them--here's wishing your mom a speedy recovery.

Oh, Barb, that must have been tricky. So far, we're having fun. They are pretty cute!