I’m back on the blog today after a two-week break, which hasn’t really been a break at all. At least, it hasn’t felt like one. But the topic of today’s post is change, and for good reason: I’m dealing with some major changes in my family, as my parents move past the autumn of their lives.
Last Monday was my wife’s and my seventh wedding anniversary, and it was also Memorial Day—not a holiday we were considering when we got hitched, I’ll admit. I chose to take time off from work, and that worked out well. My wife ended up being able to get the day off too, so we actually got to spend our anniversary together. That’s not always an option for us.
But as the week progressed, my family was dealt a massive one-two punch.
Good Thing They’re Divorced
You’d think it would be tragic that my parents divorced after 33 years of marriage. In reality, it was probably long overdue.
That divorce was just one of many landmark life changes they endured, and it was a good 30 years ago. Today, both are in their mid-80s, with Dad living out west and Mom in an assisted living facility right up the road from me.
They haven’t had a relationship for all these years, and it’s inevitably fallen to me to help them with the aging process. My father’s an old-school dude (think Clint Eastwood in all those spaghetti westerns), so he hasn’t exactly accepted much in the way of help. Mom, on the other hand, planned for the worst, and wisely got the long-term care coverage she’s ultimately needed.
The reason I entitled this section Good Thing They’re Divorced is because we’re not that archetypal close-knit family with kids and grandkids. So this past week’s events affected us somewhat differently than they would in a more, er, functional family.
Long story short, my father had a major health event last week, and within a day of that, I got word that my mother had received a major health diagnosis as well. The cliché “when it rains, it pours” exists for a reason.
And How Are You, Doing, Mike?
In addition to all the phone calls I had to make and receive in the past several days regarding my parents, I also reached out to some of my own circle to talk about all this traumatic stuff. And one of the best things I heard from a friend was, Make sure you’re taking good care of yourself.
I’ve never been a big fan of large, unexpected changes, especially unpleasant ones. But I also recognize that changes are about the only guarantee in life, and there will always be a hell of a lot of them. So I’m taking care of myself as well as I can without shirking responsibilities, doing my best to roll with the changes.