I expected gently fading edges. As this has been my experience when my grandparents grew older. Or my aunts and uncles from the generation above the one my parents live in. So I thought that they too would soften.
But that is not how I see them. They are clearly marked. The word that comes to mind is acute: severe, to an intense degree.
This is not to say that they are hard. They are not. My parents are lovely. We have always been close. And as I grew in my life with them, their edges were soft.
But now their edges are clear. Acute.
I think that I see them this clearly because I am seeing them truly. With adult eyes that can grasp the enormity of what is happening. I am hyper aware. I am extremely vigilant. I lose my patience often.
My parents are not sickly. Not at all actually. They are both strong and capable. But small things creep up. Aches that are more and so are checked out at the doctor. Pains that won’t go away as soon as they used to and cause worry and concern. Those little things. The minutiae of aging.
But then there are the bigger things too. Those things that are individual to them. Their own body’s way of slowly slowing.
And these are the things that challenge us. Us, because I am there with them. Caring.
My sisters are, too. We are in this, all of this nurturing of them and each other. We are in this. And we are very good at it.
We ask deep-set questions, probing for answers on the Internet, which we bring to them and to their doctors for explanation and verification. We challenge protocol. We are not easy but we are thorough and we are appreciative.
We laugh a lot. Aging and death, they are laced with humor and we seem to be able to capture most of it in any moment. It is so wrong sometimes. But in that way that offers relief.
We do not cry very often. But when we do our tears are hot and full. They smell of loss too soon. The anticipation of loss. Because we know what is coming.
We take pause more often. My siblings. And my parents. We linger longer. We hug harder. We make allowances where before there was too much else to allow for that kind of time. Because we see time now.
We see the way time pushes us. Granting us small moments that last for more but then jump forward too quickly. We hold these moments dearly though, pressed to our hearts as we lean into each other when we stand close to one another. And we feel them beat to each other’s rhythm. These moments move to the drumming of our combined hearts. And we know that these moments are what we have and we hold them gently.
My parents will not die too soon. This I truly know is true. They are still strong. But they are getting older. This I see.
And so each day I make mindful affirmations to be present in this. To sit with my conversations with them. To stay connected with intention. And so be able to hold onto as much as I can. To take it in. To not miss anything.
And this mindfulness, it is flowing over now. To my children. Who are themselves now adults in that cycle that, though cliché, is truly that of life. As my parents grow older, and I recognize this and begin to value even more who they are and how honored I am to be their daughter, I find myself turning to my children and seeing them clearly, too.
I see their edges. I see their growth. Their abilities. Their talents. I see their hearts. I am profoundly grateful for these children of mine as I watch them grow into themselves and away from me.
And I wonder if my edges look soft to them as they create their own lives, separate from me. Or if I am becoming acute. Clear, as my parents edges are to me?