I have had more than a few opportunities to talk with people about my experiences in eldercare. There are usually questions, followed by more stories and toward the end, I often hear: ‘I wish I had a brother (or child) like you.’ While I appreciate the intent, I always say that Lisa and I are simply living our values. We are doing what we believe. To not do this would be unnatural for us.
Lisa gave up every relationship she’s ever had, to leave a place she’s always known, to be here in North Carolina with me. While she certainly deserves consideration for sainthood, I do not. Case in point, we held our quarterly family teleconference today. Elizabeth, Michael & Joy, Lisa & I gabbed just like families do for an hour and a half. Today, Michael seemed to lead the dialog with stories from his teenage years with Mom & Pop. Michael, who is nine years younger than I am, seems to have had a very different experience with our parents than either Elizabeth or I did. His perspective on the folks is entirely different than ours.
Many of Michael’s stories were new to us, and I found myself laughing at the incredulities. You know how someone in a group laughs a bit too loudly so as to be disruptive to the proceedings? I may have been that person today. I reacted as if disbelieving of Michael’s experiences with the same people who were my own parents. Were they really the same people?
I have confessed in past writings that I had more than a few issues growing up, many of them directly related to my parents. Lisa pointed out after our teleconference that I might still have unresolved anger and that my laughter (sometimes derisive) was the way it chose to come out.
But these are not the same people today who were my parents yesterday. These are vulnerable adults, and I’m just doing what I can for them (along with my sister and brother). Yes, Mom can still get under my skin, and Pop can still irritate the heck out of me. That’s because I let them, not because of anything malicious in their intent. So, no sainthood for me. I’ve still got some growing up to do.