I let the car idle in the court as I stared at my house, a split-level built in the 50s before anyone knew about aging in place. I say my house, but I hadn't lived there for years. It had become a place of awkward aging for my parents, and that morning I dreaded walking the cracked concrete sidewalk to the door. I began to count all the reasons as I turned off the car.
I dreaded it because mom's stair lift chair to the bedroom level wasn't working, which meant Dad and I would have to somehow get her up to the stairs to go to the bathroom.
I dreaded it because I didn't want to see the obvious signs of Dad's fatigue after a night spent listening to mom call out for him. Or clean up the counter because the coffee pot leaked again.
I dreaded it because all around me would be the happy artifacts of my childhood: the shed where I kept my big wheel and the desk where I read my Holly Hobby books.
Putting one foot in front of another became an act of pure will as I reached the screen door, climbed up the step, and let it slam behind me. The discipline it took to visit my parents that morning had sculpted a cruel lump of guilt in my throat that I tried to swallow as I looked toward the kitchen table.
When I saw his face, I knew instantly it had been a good night. Relief enveloped me like a warm blanket. The part had come in for the stair lift, Dad told me as he patted my hand, and mom slept like a baby. Did I want some coffee? There was nothing but old stains on the formica countertop as I filled my mug. One by one, I started counting them. They brought me joy today, because each was a memory of a failed recipe or a clumsy brother who was laughing so hard he dropped the kool-aid pitcher.
It was a good day then and it would be a good day today. I've been counting those too, which makes me appreciate them all the more.
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