Life is a cycle. Most children see that first hand as they, and their parents, age. The child becomes the adult by constantly hounding the parent not to do certain things. The parent becomes the child as they either ignore the advice of their caring children or as they succumb to their demands. It happens without conscious intent by either party. This reverse relationship of parent and child can be both a blessing and a curse. While the child feels joy in helping care for a parent, it can also cramp a parent's freedom and sense of independence.
This recent visit with my folks was really an eye opener to me. It seemed to me, that my well meaning statements 'be careful' and 'let me help you', often seemed an annoyance to my Dad. As he continues to improve after 'his deal' two years ago, his ability to handle routine tasks increases, and even though I could see that he continues to be more able to help himself, still I tried to step in, even when I wasn't really needed.
I am very grateful, and amazed, at how much Dad can do at age 92.
I'm also painfully aware that Dad is 92.
So, over supper the night before Dad & Ev headed back to their Iowa life, I asked the question.
"How will you know when it is time to stop driving?"
I've said a few times that the minute we are issued our first driver's license, we start marching towards the day that we should give it back. But knowing when you have reached that milestone is not easily recognized by most. My Aunt and my Uncle drove longer than what I thought was safe. Both suffered from eyesight problems and both were resistant to give up on that skill that kept them mobile and independent. I don't want my Dad to follow them down that path. I want Dad to decide to stop driving before we all cringe when he gets behind the wheel, before he has an accident and before his children feel that they have to get involved with making that decision.
So, "How will you know when it is time to stop driving?"
It's not an easy question, it caused the dinner conversation to be uncomfortable and a bit defensive.
While I insinuated that it was time to start thinking about giving up driving, my parents defended their abilities behind the wheel.
In the end, I promised not to bring it up again, I hope that is a promise I won't have to break.
I hope that Dad and Ev will answer that question on their own terms.
In the meantime, I'm glad I don't know everything about their daily lives in Iowa.
I'm glad I'm not close enough to hover and worry and I'm grateful for step siblings who live close by who help with driving into the city.
I'm not sad that I had that conversation with my parents, even though it was an awkward exchange.
Like most children, I want my parents to be safe and healthy, and like most parents, I worry.
Life is a cycle.
Life is good.