Monday, September 11, 2006

Aging, my father, my life

My father is aging. He also has Parkinson's disease. About four years ago his doctor told him that most of his patients die about nine to ten years after diagnosis. The medicine lets him function, but it makes him tired and he is thinking in terms of only having five or six more years before the end.

Until the disease took hold of him he was vital. Everyone expected him to long outlive my mother. Now she prepares for a life without him and he is in a state of acceptance.

But the long years I looked forward to with him seem unlikely. August 31st I had such emotional turmoil about it. Now I move forward.

For myself, I really fell apart as my girls died, one by one. I gained weight, lost muscle and became an old man when I was in my mid-thirties. Life wrapped up on me before I knew it.

Of course I've lost over seventy pounds, added muscle mass, and now that my rotator cuff problem is resolved, I'm slowly getting stronger in the arms and shoulders. I work out, and I'm very much enjoying it, though I also very much remember that I took it up so that I would be stronger and last longer for my girls. That is why I'm home with my six year old tonight instead of working out.

A friend I really admire is now frail. She can't even do Tai chi style exercise without injury and her essay touched me.

So much about life is about being bound by time. Making decisions when decay and imperfection surround us and loss is ever present. Because we grow, because we age, because we die, we have to choose. Every day we have to choose, to make decisions, to constantly deal with a world and an environment that is never static, that we have never mastered.

So I look at my father, his choices, his life, the good he has done and the peace he has found and I look and see my life. Having them near so we can care for them, doing what we can to be there for our children, making choices, bounded always by time, imperfection and ends.

In the progress of age, in my father, I see the shape of my life.


BrianJ said...

nice thoughts

annegb said...

I see myself in my mother, also, much to my chagrin. Or I see my mom in me.

I did a martyr thing with Bill the other day. My mom used to do that to me. It's really awful.