It is said that the hardest part of growing up is realizing that your parents are growing old. I can feel every single word of this saying as I step a new ladder every year with my parents. Sometimes, I wish I could freeze the time and stop the aging process and shun the ever increasing fear of losing loved ones as they grow old. Unfortunately, this is not possible and we have to live under this constant fear all throughout our life.
So what should adults like me, you and so many of us do for our aging parents to ensure that they spend their old age as the golden days of their life. I have realized that as parents grow old, they become peculiarly similar to children.
So the first step is to identify that little kid hiding behind the veil of wrinkles and receding hairline. You will get subtle hints at different stages of life. For instance, when your dad knowingly skips medical check-ups or your mom start seeking your advice on the most trivial issue she might be facing at work. Such habits slowly knit in your routine life as years pass by before you realize your parents have become your own kids.
Once you have realized that your parents have turned into kids, the second step will be to stealthily step into the shoes of being a parent. You need to do this very discreetly. Mind you, very discreetly. For instance, start keeping a calendar entry of monthly check-up for your dad and the moment the next appointment becomes due, remind him immediately. Now, the most difficult part will be when he refuses to go for the checkup and comes up with a lame excuse. It’s the right time to turn on your parent mode and tell him sternly to get a checkup done. And if refuses to go, simply tell him that he is not getting dinner in the evening. Remember, your mom’s trick to hide the jar of chocolates when you played cricket beyond your ‘permitted playtime’. Apply the same trick and your
parents kids will be right on track.
As you become comfortable in your role of a parent, you will realize that not only you need to ensure the healthy being of your
parents kids but you need to nurture their old age childhood. Old age Childhood demands time, love, devotion and a constant reassurance of a strong backing. Remember your own childhood – when your father used to work double shifts to assure you had all the comforts of life or when your mom took an off from work to stay with you during your exams or when your parents gifted you the video game you longed for but never told them knowing it was too expensive. Just the way you enjoyed your childhood, you will have to recreate the same magic for your parents kids. More than anything else, your presence, your time and your affection will ensure a joyful old age childhood for your parents kids. Spend time with your parents kids – plan a surprise trip to their favorite destination, join yoga classes with them, take them out for movies, eat dinner with them at their favorite restaurant, take them out for shopping or simply just spend time sipping coffee with them and affectionately listen to their stories. Soon, you will start experiencing the same happiness, satisfaction and joy your parents experienced when you were a kid. And as Tia Walker rightly said, soon you will realize that ‘to care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors’.