Even adults, we hope to recognize our childhood in the eyes of our parents. We want, intimately, small attentions, like the favorite food on the anniversary day or the soccer team’s jersey if we are in their house.
We are not ready to change places in this relationship.
It’s hard to accept our parents getting old. Understanding that the small limitations they begin to present is not laziness or scorn. It is not because they forgot to give the message that they do not care about our urgency. That they ask us to repeat the same sentence because they do not listen so well – and sometimes, the ear is not deaf but distracted the brain. It takes until we accept that they are no longer the same – who will say “superheroes”? We can not divide all our anguish and all our problems because, for them, the proportions are even greater and there everything deregulates: the heart rate, the pressure, the glycemic rate, the emotional balance.
Let’s get a bit ceremonial out of love. Trying to spare them from what is avoidable. Then, unwittingly, we began to reverse the protective roles. We are trying to protect our parents from the shocks of the world.
We say we’re okay despite the crisis. We made the pediatrician’s diagnosis easier for the grandson’s infection to appear milder. We hide the misunderstandings of marriage to appear to build an eternal family. We filter the anguish that may be fleeting rather than breaking up any problem. No need to worry: we will be fine at the end of the day and at the end of our lives. But as we change those little details into our relationship, we get a bit orphaned. We keep our eyes open on sleepless nights without being able to run crying into their parents’ bed. We hide from them the fear of losing the job, the spouse or the house so that they do not suffer without necessity and, there, we are alone in this waiting; there is no lap or bullet or cafuné to console us.
The more they lose memory, vigor, hearing, the lonelier we feel, without accepting that the inevitable happened. There may even be some inner revolt to expect them to react to the aging of the body, to fight more for themselves, without realizing, in our own disorientation, that they do not have the same consciousness as us, they can not prevent the passage of time or who simply have the right to feel tired.
Then the day may come when our parents will indeed become our children. That we need to remind them to eat, to take the medicine, or to pay an account. That it is necessary to lead them on the streets or to give them their hands so that they do not fall on the stairs. That we have to prepare them and put them to bed. Maybe even feed them, taking the cutlery to his mouth.
And they will be children who will give more work because they will remember that they are their parents. They will react their first attacks because they know that deep down, you know that you owe them obedience. They will weaken their first arguments and try to prove that they can still be independent, even when that moment has passed, because it is difficult to imagine themselves without full control of their own routines. But they will give in gradually, when physical or mental strength is reduced and they can find in their love for them the balance for all the changes that frighten them.
It will not be easy for you. It is not the logic of life. Even though you are a father, no one has prepared you to be the father of your parents. And if you’re not, you’ll have to learn the nuances of that role to protect those you love.
But if you can, smile at the senile comments or sing while you are eating together. Listen to that story told as often as if it were the first one and ask questions as if everything was unheard of. And kiss them on the forehead with all possible tenderness, as when you put a child to bed, promising you that by opening your eyes the next morning the world will still be there, as before, untouchable, for her to play.
Because if you came here with your parents, with the door open to interfere with your lives, it was because you had a long journey of fellowship. And to propose to live this moment with all the intensity will only demonstrate how great is your capacity to love and to repay the love that life offered you.