Someday we will be old. Someday we will require care, too. We can bravely say from the surety of our middle-aged youth that if we ever got like Grandpa, then we wouldn’t want to live. But likely that won’t be true. Grandpa still gets much pleasure from a buttery, drippy-with-maple-syrup pancake, from patting what he calls “the big dog,” from seeing the children even though he doesn’t really talk to them much anymore. He likes very much to talk with Husband and me.
Maybe there’s a lesson here. Just because life is hard, just because it is highly compromised, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t still poignant and wonderful. Red fall leaves against a dawn-streaked sky are still exquisite, even if you see them while once again rushing to the Emergency Room. Experiencing someone’s absence is the other side of experiencing their love.
With Grandpa, as much as I don’t enjoy many aspects of his daily care, for me, taking care of my own is the right thing to do. Hopefully, when I am old, our children will assume guardianship for us just as we are taking care of our parents. On the days when everything I want to get done is put aside in the service of others, I try to remind myself that this service is also an accomplishment. Even if the accomplishment feels insubstantial, as empty as sunlight on my palm.
Also published on Medium.