My oldest turns 13 this weekend. He’s my first, the one who made me a mommy. Thirteen! I just can’t believe it. It makes me so emotional. We are so blessed to have him. He had a rocky start in this world, but now he’s strong, healthy and turning 13!
He’s my guy, my pal. I love to be with him. And, he’s a great kid. He works hard in school, is good to his brother and sister and totally idolizes his dad. Sure, he’s starting to have that moody teenager way about him, and he grumbles about doing anything that’s not of interest to him, but he’s still mine.
There’s just something about your first, don’t you think? Maybe because they are the ones who made us mommies. Maybe because they’re the first to go through everything. Or that we go through everything with them first! Whatever it is, my guy is pretty special. And now, he’s going to be a teenager! Yikes!
It sucks to get old. What sucks more is watching your parents get old. Mine are only in their 60’s, but things are changing, and they’re changing fast. My dad’s gone from a very “manly” man who could fix anything and make anything to a guy who has trouble keeping his balance. He’s been shaky for years, so much so that he gave up writing. He can’t sign birthday cards anymore, so his girlfriend does it for him. But she spells “grampa” wrong. Those were the little things, things that bothered me but weren’t such a big deal. But now he has trouble maintaining his balance. He chokes when he’s eating. His voice is so soft I can barely hear him sometimes.
He used to blame it on the heart and blood pressure meds until my son overheard one of my dad’s longtime friends say that he had Parkinson’s Disease. When I confronted him about it, he told me it was “atypical” Parkinson’s. Not a big deal.
Then this year he fell off of a ladder (in Georgia) and broke his wrist. He fell from such a distance that they did a complete body scan; they were surprised he survived. He couldn’t drive and could barely care for himself. His girlfriend took care of him at home and I drove him to his many doctor’s appointments. Eventually the wrist healed, but there’s always a new bruise or scab from a fall he’s had. Today we got a call that he fell from a ladder again. This time in New Hampshire at his summer home. No broken bones, but he won’t be able to drive home. My brother and husband are heading up to get him.
We’ve had to talk about selling his house in New Hampshire. The house he loves. The house he’s almost got just the way he wants it. The problem is that now, he can’t really take care of it. And he can’t be there alone. But just because he can’t physically do all of the things he once could, doesn’t mean that he’s going to let us tell him what to do. He’s a stubborn old Yankee, he’ll do as he pleases, even if it means falling from ladder after ladder.
This year I’ve had to face the reality that my dad may not be around much longer. He’s never going to be the kind of guy to sit and relax his way through retirement. He’s going to keep doing all of the things he loves, even if there’s a risk that he’ll hurt himself. At first, the parent in me wanted to make him stop, for his own safety. But I’m not his parent. And hard as it is, I know that I can’t make him do anything.
Nobody knows how much time they have left, and everyone deserves to live happily. So I guess that these falls, as hard as they are to watch, are just going to be our reality if we want my dad to live out the rest of his life happily.