One Last Visit?
My mom has reached the age where her friends are dying. Actually, she’s been there for several years. But as she ages, the number seems to increase. Last week there were three funerals at her church.
Among her closest, lifelong “tell-you anything” friends, three remain. One in Kansas. One in Wyoming. And one in California. You may recall that we took her on a trial trip in April 2010, hoping we could take her to Kansas and Wyoming to visit these friends, but first night out, she fell. We decided we couldn’t be out hours from a hospital and risk a fall, so we changed our plans and in October 2010 took her to the California town where she lived for many years before marrying my stepdad. She had a wonderful time with family and her best friend.
My mom is a traveler. She has a wanderlust heart. She needs to be moving all the time. But every time she threatens to drive to Kansas or central California, her mean oldest daughter (that would be me…) puts the kibosh on it. I feel bad, but I know what traffic is like out there. She hasn’t driven a road trip in almost ten years. She still thinks she can do it. Even when we take her on a trip and point out the crazy traffic.
So after several threats, hubby and I decided it was time to take her to visit her California friend again. We did that last week. It was a quick trip for her, a long trip for us. You see, in order to pull this off, we drive four hours to her, spend a couple of days doing medical appointments, then drive five hours to central California. We stay a couple of nights, then drive back five hours to her home, and four more to our home. It’s trips like this where we begin to feel our age! (It’s taken us over a week to recover from the utter TIRED we experienced).
So for all of this, she got one full day with her friend. They talked up a storm and made plans for when Mom will drive down for a longer visit, each knowing this could be their last time together. Mom is 90, her friend is 87.
I can’t imagine knowing that each goodbye could be the last. And yet, isn’t this a reality we all live with all the time? A friend’s 20-something son was just in a motorcycle accident and almost didn’t make it. My DIL’s dad (our age) passed away over Christmas following a two-year battle with cancer. I've been to several funerals for people of our generation in the last year. My sister has been critically ill for over a year. And hey, we live in California where we risk our lives just going to the store.
So I ask, how should we then live? I know I've become so much more intentional in my relationships. I treasure each time I'm with friends or family. I keep short accounts. I tell people what I value about them and how I appreciate them. I pray more for those I love. And I try to live like I want to be remembered.
So what do you do to live in the moment and treasure your relationships? What works for you? And how do you help your aging parent maintain their relationships with friends near and far?