Privacy: Letting Parents Age Gracefully

A New year spurs us to rethink
The mechanics on how to
Live a more inspired life
How to be our best,
Most healthy, creative and generous selves
Open up to new and old friends,

Setting foot in different places–
More museum exhibits, art openings,
Movie screenings and free lectures,
Running more races backed by alpine training
To expand strangely weak lung capacity,
Update headshot photos,
Draw more…
Read more
Do more Good,
Be a more present parent
Eat new and nutritious foods
Curtail drinking entirely
Or at least drink more wisely.

So many endeavors to venture
Fresh, original challenges
Unique to my tormented soul
To learn from,

Other new, less sparkly threads
Dangle up ahead.
A coming apart
The gradual fraying of old
Well established roles
When parents age,
Something different
A dreaded opening
To upcoming unpredictable scenes
And shifts in family dynamics
Surely to follow.

This awareness
A crusted jar
Discovered at the back of the fridge
Likely containing mold,
The beginnings of fermented rot
Has a lid that must be cracked to
Assess the taste of things,

Weekly phone calls
Parents, mid 70’s now
Aging fairly well,
Slender, active with lives
Still high on international travel,
Golf, socializing
But also with bodies
Starting to break down, to
Give out from underneath them
An undeniable peeling away of an outer,
Most prime layer.

Self made folks,
They came to the US over 40 years ago
With $200, a camera
And medical residencies
Awaiting in NYC’s inner cities.

They left behind
To work and climb,
To “success” themselves
With an intensity reserved for
Aspiring immigrants with set plans.

They assembled an American Dream so golden,
Portraits worthy of
Self help and motivational books
That sketch examples to
Hold up to others about
What is possible,
To provide unparalleled access to
Opportunity for themselves and their children.

Now, resting,
Relaxing in refined leisure,
There are certain things
Money and success cannot buy.
Such a cliche
But there’s knowing,
And there’s knowing
For the confusion can be great
And lifelong.

After all,
Money really is able to buy
A whole lot in this world
A semblance of and varying degrees
Of happiness,

Still, the hands of money
Remain tied, impotent,
Bankrupt to the
Forces of time passage.
No one can be forever healthy,
Forever mentally sharp.
Colors start to fade away
No matter what your bottom line is.

Now, words of pain
Start to creep,
Ever so slightly, out.
A passing mention.
Stiff fingers unable
To bend in the mornings.
A knee giving out
Making prolonged walking
On uneven surfaces newly challenging
But, still pitched to us as,
“No big deal”.

Now, sporadic references
To long term care insurance
Hover across dinner tables.

Now, as adult kids,
We are unsure about what
Lies before our eyes.

Are people getting more cranky,
Inflexible and difficult to deal with,
So much so that they are not
Connecting with grandkids as well?

Do short term memory lapses
Seem more frequent?
Are the gaps to known things
Larger than normal “Senior moments”?

If so,
What might the cause(es) be?

And if so,
How can preventative intervention,
If any exists,
Even work if people
Not only eschew help
But also deny need in the first place?

If issues remain unacknowledged
How do the rest of us
While allowing
Privacy and dignity?

Is establishing a healthy, safe
And realistic balance between
Help and self determination
For the ailing
Even possible?
And for how long?

Questions unanswered.
Many remain unasked thus far
Because we don’t yet know
What or how to ask
But will need asking one day.

Deep breathes before the submerge
Under cold water.
A frigid rush into murkiness.
As we begin to make our way
Through newly forming tides.
Blurry vision
Flailing limbs
To propel our unwilling bodies
Forward into uncharted minutes.



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