It’s a bitch to get old and feeble. None of us thinks about it while we’re busy with our lives managing careers, family, friends and the daily mundane chores of living. Nobody anticipates the day when we can no longer take care of ourselves, relegating decisions about our life to others.
That rude awakening landed square between my eyes while now playing the role of parent to my elderly father. He’s always been a ferociously independent, active man who supported a family of six, sent his kids to college and provided the religious education he considered to be important. He ran a business and answered to himself about all matters.
As a renegade, my father felt rules were guidelines that he could follow or not. He could run red lights if he determined there to be no traffic, but God forbid any of his kids do that if he’s a passenger in our cars. If his customers were tardy on paying him, his bills could wait until cash flow improved. Any imposed penalty for lateness didn’t apply to him because of his extenuating circumstances.
Now he sits in a wheel chair while his body defies his craving to walk and go and do. Now he has to listen to us. And his therapists. And his doctors. And eat food they want him to eat and drink liquids that are unappetizing.
Life is incredibly difficult for him these days and at 89 it’s damn near impossible to become a different man, a deferential man.
My heart aches for him and I wonder whether he will be me someday.