As I write this, my parents are climbing the side of a mountain in rural China. I am so proud of them for buying his and hers walking sticks and packing backpacks with dry snacks and water bottles, but I worry. Of course, I worry.
Over the past few years, there's been a subtle shift in our dynamic. I find them doctors and keep track of appointments and medication lists. They take great care of themselves, but the worry that used to flow in one direction (towards my sister and I), now flows the other way, too.
Two weeks ago, my middle daughter and I spent a night in the ER. She had some tummy trouble to sort out (she's fine) and it involved waiting around for some tests. We were situated beside an elderly man and his adult daughter. They had been there for awhile and were also waiting for tests. I know this because she told anyone who would listen. Anyone with working ears knew how much of an inconvenience it was for her to be there with her father.
I won't pretend to know anything about their relationship or whether or not he showed her patience in the years he was her caregiver. I do know he was scared; the fear was in his eyes, on his face, in the way he sat in his wheelchair. I do know he was forgiving; of her impatience and dismissiveness.