• Susan J Hilger

Role reversal: the emerging story ...

     I always called this stage a roller coaster, a stage nobody prepares us for or even mentions in passing! It’s the time in your life where a parent calls to tell you the other parent has fallen, or is in the hospital, isn’t doing well. You are hopeful and optimistic they will ride right on through this one and you decide to go or to wait for the return call.

     My experience started with my dad’s really bad fall. He fell off their front stoop down 4 steps without breaking his fall at all, flat on his sweet old and weathered face. I’m not kidding, he was black and blue for months on the right side from his face down to his arm. What happens next?

     My partner and I jump in the car that weekend to help mom, they are only 75 miles away and it feels right. Dad was recovering from surgery for an aneurism in his leg, one he INSISTED the doc operate and deal with because of his family history. The doctor didn’t recommend this surgery, but dad was sure it was needed. The doc put him off as long as he could and then dad had his aneurism treated. The leg never healed, it stayed weak, thin and slightly blue. Seeing dad’s face that weekend was heart crushing. It’s the first time I saw him as a mortal, weaker, my big strong dad wasn’t.

     Dad was in his early 80’s, and was always a tough human, we saw him through a number of serious procedures and operations. Of course, this was a bump in the road, so to speak. He’d be back strong as every in a few weeks.

     By the time we arrive back in Charlotte after a weekend of family, cooking, encouraging dad and mom, we are tired. And in moments, our phone is ringing. It’s mom and her voice is so upset. It seems dad is now hallucinating on his new meds and sees imaginary squirrels running through the house. Mom, also in her 80’s, is following him as he tried to run down to the basement to catch the ‘squirrel’.

     My heart is now jumping around as are my nerves. Now we have mom to think about, not that we weren’t already concerned. But we couldn’t have the two of them in their 80’s running up and down those basement stairs after pretend squirrels.

     And it began ... what is our backup plan? We didn’t have one.

     Emerge: come out, appear, come into view 💜

#caretaking #Aging #Family #Coaching #Supporting #Love

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