Friday, September 10, 2010

Facing My Parents' Mortality

The past week and a half has been a busy and stressful one for my family and me; on the night of Monday, August 30th, my father had a stroke as we were leaving a celebratory birthday dinner for my aunt. He was lucky--we all were--in that it was a relatively mild one, that will resolve itself with time. Still, for the time being, he has been left with weakness and instability on the left side of his body and on the right side of his face, affecting his gait and his speech, respectively.

It has been a surreal time for us. Doctors have told my father to address certain health issues for years, warnings that he has repeatedly ignored, believing that nothing would ever, could ever, happen to him; now he is experiencing a rough reality check. The rest of us are, as well. While my mother and I have been more aware of the risks his diet and sedentary lifestyle posed to his physical well-being, at the same time we have only truly been confronted with the possibility of a life without him now. For years, my father has defied the odds, remaining unaffected by the foods he eats and his lack of exercise; only within the past few years has his behavior truly started to catch up with him.

It is a scary thing, for my father to face his own mortality. It is equally scary for me to face it. Intellectually, I have always known that I would not always have my parents in my life, that they eventually grow old and die; however, this is the first time that I've been faced with that cold, hard reality. Since the day I was born, my parents have been there for me, to offer their unconditional love and support; I would never have made it through this past year without them. Now, as they approach senior citizenship, I see their bodies start to wear down, and I know that this will not always be the case. There will come a day when they will be gone, and I will be left alone. And this is something that strikes fear into the depths of my heart. I don't know how to possibly prepare myself for such a day; I will never be "ready" to lose the people who gave me life and love, who raised me, who shaped me into the person I am today.

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