About 24 years ago, my own father had a massive heart attack right in the hospital he worked at for years. We started CPR immediately and he survived but with an quadruple bypass. Afterwards, he apologized and said ” I did not want to be a burden.” I quickly informed him about an agreement we had when I was born. It was the a universal truth when each one of us are brought into this world. I said ” Dad, when I came into this world, you changed my diapers and when you leave this world, I will change yours….it is the universal truth of the circle of life.” Now, this vision may be disturbing to many , but the truth of this reality may be even more disturbing to more. For all your life, your parents were the people who helped you through everything from potty training; to riding a bike; and even through some difficult emotional or financial times. You would look up to them for advice and now, they may be asking for your hand to help pull them up from a chair. How ironic life can be but to the better. It is not only difficult for the child, but even more difficult for the parent. The pride of being the stronger, richer, fitter, and even taller is now compromised by arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis and all the imaginable “itis’s” known to man. This is where reminding our parents about that universal truth of diapers comes into play. Reminding them of their own experience of changing our diapers means we have to repay this debt and also the fact that they may have helped their own parents during this same phase of life change their discomfort into comforting thoughts. Most parents who helped their own parents age gracefully will remember this as a tough, but precious challenge in their lives. Why would they steal this same precious challenge from their own children?
With this in mind, our job as children of aging parents is to help our parents and ourselves realize this universal truth about the circle of life and slowly accept this as a reality rather than a cute euphemism. This reality helps both of us. The children start to accept the fact that people do really age and they need help, patience, grace and mercy. The parents also start to understand that the world around them is changing and maybe not all for the worst, but for the better as they continue to teach their children the valuable lessons of patience, grace and mercy.
See how this “circle of life” is not just a slogan for Disney Characters to sing, but rather an eye opening stage of our lives.