Role Reversal

April 29, 2015

It’s 6:30 am. I’ve already been up for a good hour. Partially because I generally wake up close to that time – but in reality, it’s because my mother woke me accidentally – she was having a bad dream…something I am sure is a regular occurrence now with my Dad’s illness. I can hear him breathing on his oxygen  machine from the kitchen – the very kitchen I grew up in. How strange this morning seems – and yet all so familiar too.

Yesterday, my Dad called me at work, something he NEVER does. Mom fell ill; she was dizzy and in bed and he was worried. Having ALS, he is now pretty much wheelchair-bound, so it is difficult for him to help her – although he so valiantly tries. Of course, I rushed directly over to their house….my old house – in fact my grandmother’s old house (talk about “coming home”).

I know I am not a doctor – but I am a mother (too) and she seems to have a virus of some sort (blocked ears). I settled her in and she napped for most of the afternoon – but not before asking me to organize my Dad’s dinner….her main concern. How funny and yet how sweet – 61 years later, she is concerned about getting his dinner on the table on time. No problem, I tell her. I leave to pick up my daughter from school and go home to organize my own family before returning…I insist that I will spend the night because the truth is that they need me to (for Heaven’s sake….who will make Dad’s breakfast if I am not here – and ALS or not – Dad still has his appetite and loves a good breakfast). Mom is all worried about putting me out – but I tell her her “Mom – you sat on edge of my bed for years when I was a kid, whenever I was sick and if I called you today to say I wasn’t well...” she finished my sentence with “I’d rush right over“. Love. Family. Enough said.

So here I am. Roles are reversed and it is strange – and yet, I feel both relieved and happy to be able to do this for them….they have given me so much. Does it take a bit of rescheduling? Of course. But my family (thank goodness that I married the man of my dreams and have such terrific supportive kids … really) and my wonderful boss and co-workers make it a cinch…ease my concerns with their honest love and support.

So here I sit, at the kitchen table – in my old “seat” waiting for Dad to wake up(although he did briefly – first words out of his mouth were – How is Mom? 61 years and still each other’s main concern, truly amazing…) so I can make his coffee and his breakfast. I feel okay – I feel weird – I feel a bit scared as that future inevitable has given me a trial run. I take solace and am reminded that; To whom much is given – much is expected.…and I know that in the end,  I will be able to finish this journey – with grace and a smile, if only to make my parents’ life easier…it’s all I can do.

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2 Responses to “Role Reversal”

  1. nives degano Says:

    You wrote a very touching piece that hits home. You are a gem! You are lucky to have them and they are very lucky to have you! Xo

  2. susan Says:

    “It’s all I can do,” diminishes what you’re doing–and no doubt will be doing– it’s priceless. There’s no greater gift for aging parents than loving, caring, competent children. To quote my husband’s grandma, “Angels can do no more.” Bless you.


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