Real life becomes frightening at times. Maybe that’s the reason I write with such determination. My parents have been married for 70 years. Honestly, they aren’t doing all that well. Mom is tethered to an oxygen tank full time now and yet she still finds it difficult to breathe. Dad is 87 and can’t hear it thunder. His heart has seen better days. The legs grow shaky every time he stands. He pops nitro pills like they’re candy. Yet he still drives. Up until a few years ago they visited others in the hospital, took in food to the sick and never, ever missed church. Last week I stood in the kitchen as they sat down to a breakfast of cereal and toast. Before they took the first bite my mother prayed over the food. My heart grew soft and mushy watching them.
I don’t like writing about those kind of things. I don’t want to see them grow old. I don’t want them to be frail. I don’t want to be the caregiver because that would mean I’m losing them one breath at a time. I don’t want to have the talk with them about it’s time to bring in more help or that the driving may have to end. Not only does my brother and I have to do it but people need to write about the experience for us.
Other people share in this fragile experience of aging loved ones. I can tell you have to shoot a stinger missile but I can’t tell you how to cope with parents getting old. Writers exist that posses the ability to help the rest of us muddle through being a better son or daughter when our parents need us. I want to encourage those of you who write non-fiction. Your words make a different kind of magic that I can never begin to attempt. Without those kind of writers we would never know how to live or let go.