I kept a photo on the refrigerator door for a long, long time. The picture was of my eldest daughter and I at a picnic, taken at a moment neither of us was posing or prepared. We both had on sunglasses and were laughing together at something.
Here’s what I loved about that picture: you had to do a serious double take to tell which was me and which was my daughter. We looked so very much alike. Of course, I loved that!
I didn’t feel the same joy when I looked at my mom and wondered if people could still tell us apart.
It is a tough thing to watch our parents age and realize that this will one day be us. If we provide care to our parents, we are likely even more aware of the toll aging has taken on their bodies. We watch them experience cognitive decline and wonder, “Will I start to lose my mind any day now, too?”
Sometimes, watching the changes in our parents is enough to cause us to take a step back. It’s easier not to be faced with our inevitable aging than it is to look it right in the eye. We hold back our time; we hold back our energy. We feel a deep level of pain, fear and anxiety that keeps us from laughing, hugging, joking together.
And so, we are not present, when our simple presence could make all the difference.
I recall those moments when I so proudly would look at the picture on my fridge and think, “We look just alike.”
My daughter may have looked at the same picture, have the same thought, and feel horror and dismay.
It’s time to look past our obsession with youthfulness, and focus instead on relationships. It’s time to add more love – not less – to our lives.
Maybe we can close our eyes to the ravages of age. Maybe we can learn to open our eyes to the inner beauty of our elders – to the 25 year old young man with his new car; the young mother with her new baby.
Their hopes and dreams were fresh and alive then. Inside, some of those hopes and dreams still burn on, just waiting for us to say, “Hey mom, do you want to go for a drive to the park and have a picnic with me?”