I met my father today, and we had cake and coffee. He is a grass widower at the moment while my mother went for convalescent care. At our last meeting before she left, I asked him what he planned to do during these five weeks. He answered that he hadn’t made any plans for this time.
This stuck a nerve. On other times, his response was like “I meet X, go to the philharmonie, visit Z.”
My father is a very positive thinking and content person, healthy and mentally fit. He likes to meet other people, and he loved being a teacher. He is very aware of the fact that his life is good. He is thankful for his long lasting, happy marriage, and he is happy that we two finally get along after twenty years of struggling. He will never complain, but sometimes my mother and I have to read between the lines.
Finally, I got it. My father will turn 72 in August. In the past years many of his friends and acquaintances died. Some of his friends became ill over the time. I tend to overlook, I want to overlook, how old he is now. We had rough times, but I still can’t imagine a life without my parents – this is the only life I know.
I have to be mindful of my own limitations. We all agree on the fact that I will not be able to take care of my parents when they get older and need constant assistance. We talked about this openly. But today, I wanted to do something nicce for my father, so I brought him some of the soup I made earlier today. He doesn’t cook very well (he tried to make jacket potatoes without putting water in the pot once, my mother and I will always remind him of that). He liked the idea, but was not sure how he could get the soup home without spilling it in his backpack. Well, they invented soup containers for that. On Sunday I will call him and set up another meeting, we will do my parents’ tax return and fix a few minor problems on their new laptop then. And I will bring a casserole.
Days like today make me realize how limited my abilities are. If I were stronger, if I still had a car, I could check on my father more often. I tell myself that it is important to keep doing the small things I can do for them. Cooking, fixing computer issues, whatever. I know that my parents are thankful for everything I do, that we have a really good relationship now, and that they don’t blame me for what I am not able to do. This means a lot to me. But I would prefer to be my former, stronger, more reliable self.