Monday, February 22, 2016

Check and Balance

When my friends and I gather, we often inquire as to the state of each other's parents. We are at the age when the phone call in the middle of the night no longer concerns our children; those days have passed. The feared phone call is more likely to concern our parents.

D's parents have been slowly aging. Their decline in health, strength and capability, has been slow, but steady. She informed us today that neither of her parents can drive any longer--alone. But together they can still drive. What? Her father still has the physical capacity. He has a license and can see well enough. The problem is when he forgets where he is going or how to get to where he's going. D's mother's mind is still sharp as a whip and she can remember where and how to get to a destination. She has however lost the physical capabilities it takes to drive--slower reaction time and strength. So, together they make a great pair.

I remember reading a story about an old, old married couple who'd chalked up more than 50 years together. In their declining age, they'd become quite the fighters. Verbal insults were slung like snowballs in a schoolyard. It became their relationship and when one of them died, the other was left without a sparring partner. The son and author of the story had always thought their communication rugby was because they couldn't stand each other's company, but when his first parent died, the second was left without purpose and died shortly thereafter.

Tony and I are driving down State street when I notice an ugly, old building that I deem as an eyesore.

"It needs to be torn down," I say.

Within a few minutes, I see another blemish on the cityscape.

"I think that's what old people start doing. Start noticing the ugly things in their lives, in their towns, and then they start complaining and attending city planning meetings with demands for change. We need to help each other not become old people."

I see us working as a team, as an old couple, trying not to be an old couple. It's a check and balance system, a Senate and a House of Representatives.

Now that my mother is alone, her check and balance comes from my sister. There isn't a day that passes without a conversation between the two.

The nature of life is that we will lose our check or our balance. If I am the one to go first, Tony will need a friend, a sister, or a daughter, or all his daughters. If I am left without a balance, it will be a friend, a daughter or a sister.