Updated: Jun 11, 2019
The photos in the album are old and faded. But there’s no mistaking it.
The twenty-somethings in them are vigorous, beautiful and full of life - on the verge of a lifelong adventure. And then you know it in your heart as you look closer. The people grinning out at you from across the years really ARE the elderly parents whose failing health is such a concern today. It's written in their faces. They had passions, dreams and quirks just as you do now. And you realise that one day, you'll be the one in the photo.
For many of us, our parents are as constant and unremarkable as the sky - just a fact of life .
So when the sheltering sky starts to falter it can be a dizzying, unsettling experience. Renegotiating relationships and rebalancing your life can be tough.- taking precious time and patience.
It’s an experience more and more of us are having. According to Public Health England the number of people aged 85 and over has almost tripled since 1971.And that number is expected to increase.
So get ready - this is coming your way.
It can be tough, no question. But there is joy too. Lots of it. Like joining your mother as she dances to Rhianna - and remembering - yes she always did love a party! Or your dad twinkling as he remembers how he made his first impertinent play for your mother, the years falling away from him.
The extra years can be a gift. - really precious moments. They allow us extra time to discover who are parents were before we came along. I treat mine as a living historical resource. What was it like for them as young people? How did they meet? What was their first job? What has been their greatest pride, deepest sorrow.? The answers to these can surprise and amuse and shine a light on how we got to be the people we are today.
The unpretty details of caring for our parents can dismay and distract. But don’t let them blind you to the beauty.