I'm no spring chicken anymore. Exactly 3 months from today will be my 41st birthday. Today is my mother's 62nd birthday, and like any good son, I spent most of the morning with her. And, like any good son, I gave my mom the most considerate present I could afford: I went with my dad to do some work on the air conditioner at their church. My mom got to spend most of the day without him worrying her to do this or do that. See, good son. :-)
Which leads me to the title of this blog - The absolute worst part of getting older. I'm old enough now that the wrinkles don't bother me (much). The "platinum blonde" highlights in my hair have been with me since my late teens, so that doesn't bother me (too bad). People addressing me as "sir" still kind of gets to me, as does Mr., but I do live in the South, so I'm used to it. I'm sure I made a lot of people feel old when I was younger, because my parents taught me to "respect my elders." I still say sir and ma'am, Mr., Ms., and Mrs. Growing up in the South, this becomes second nature to most all of us, mainly because if our parents heard us disrespect an "elder," we were promptly administered a "back hand!" If you've never received a back hand, count your blessings. Those things are ruthless.
No, the absolute worst part of getting older is watching your parents struggle with things they've never had to struggle with before. Working on the church's air conditioning unit with my dad today, I almost broke down crying. My dad was always a strong, independent man. He rarely ever needed help with anything he had to do, and today I watched him struggle with getting a screwdriver into the head of the screw on the unit. 15 minutes of watching his shaking hands try to get the driver in the head of the screw, and wanting so bad to do it for him. But he's a proud man of 63 (he'll be 64 July 10th of this year) and was determined to do it himself. And the more he fought with it, the worse I felt. My dad and I never had what you would call a "good relationship," but in the last few years, he's battled Fibrosis of his lungs, resulting in a lung transplant in 2006, and multiple bouts with skin cancer, which has taken his nose and most of the right side of his face and neck (F#@K Cancer!). We've gotten closer over the last few years, thanks to my youngest brother being a bigger screw-up than me, and I cherish the time I get to spend with him, but I really wish his health was better. I would love to be able to sit on the porch and have a beer with my dad, but his health doesn't allow him to drink any alcohol. His energy level is so low these days that he needs a nap after making up his mind, and this is not the man I've known for 40+ years. I'm fighting the tears as I write this, hoping that by "saying" it I might find a way to cope with it. Maybe.
I guess what I'm trying to say is no matter what your relationship is with you parents, make it a point to call or go by for a visit as often as possible. Have patience with them. They're human, too. I'm sure my dad is having a hard time coming to terms with his decline in health, but the good Lord knows what he's doing, so they say. I just hope his pain is lesser than mine, because this is the worst thing I've ever felt.
Sorry to bring you down with this one, but I had to get it out, and that is what friends are for, right? Listening.