I was sitting at the bank the other day, when a man somewhere around my age, perhaps on the closer side of 50, came in with his dad. He walked up to the desk and asked the receptionist if she knew his father and pointed to the elderly man on his right. The teller smiled with sad eyes and said,” yes, we all know George.” I could tell be the look of pity on her face that this man had some serious struggles with his father.

The two gentlemen took a seat beside me and the father kept saying “They stole my money”. The son sighed and said “dad, you are confusing the issues. There is no record of you purchasing a money order and why do you think you bought one? You have no need for a money order. These people are professionals, they are not out to steal money from their clients.” He leaned his arms forward on his knees and placed his head in his hands and just sighed. I could tell he wanted to be rescued. I wanted to place my hand on his shoulder and tell him it will all be okay. But that would be a lie.

It’s not going to be okay. That moment when the child becomes the caregiver is painful. I watch my aunts and my parents go through those same frustrations. I know one day it will be me and my siblings going through the same thing. I watch the stress levels of everyone rise, from the parents to their children. One can’t help feel it too. I worry about my parents and they worry about their children and their parents and I worry about my kids and it all becomes a vicious cycle.

I wonder about how it happens. That very moment where my grandparents went from being in charge, being strong, looking after my great grandparents, to relying on others to help them get through, needing someone to make choices for them. As a child, I was shielded from the struggles my grandparents had with my great grandparents. I remember my great grandma living at my grandma’s house. I remember when she went from looking after little details, cooking meals and being an active member of the household, to being cared for. Meals brought to her, medications lined up and eventually the decision to move her into a care facility. I don’t remember being aware of my grandparent’s struggle, their stress or agonizing over decisions about what to do. What likely had happened was my grandfather made the decisions for my grandma. He took care of her like that. He would rescue her and make her feel safe. I’m sure that is what she misses most about him. Because seriously, that’s all any girl wants. Women are capable of making decisions, being strong, holding it together, but that one person who can make them feel safe and protected is the ultimate.

When I looked at that man who was my age, I had a moment of clarity. Although I am removed from caring for my parents, I am in a different situation. I am still feeling that at this very moment. I want to be rescued, made to feel safe. I knew that son had wanted go back to the time where is dad was the protector and made everything safe. I long for a simple time where I could crawl up to couch and snuggle between my parents. I am lucky that I am not alone like that man in the bank. I have my family supports and the clarity of mind from both parents. I understand that everyone has the sense that the future is unknown. It makes it hard to plan for, but it is one of those leaps of faith that anyone who has a desire to do great things must take. It just happens to be my turn to face the unknown.

7 thoughts on “Alone

  1. You have a strong and well grounded sense of empathy, Robyn. Being aware like that of the struggles of others, and the acknowledgement that you likely will face a similar struggle one day makes you wiser than most. Lovely post and beautifully written.


  2. I had a similar experience recently. An elderly man in the small town in which I work appeared at the City Council meeting and yelled that his land was being stolen and the business in question hadn’t talked to him about any agreements and this was the first he’d heard of it, etc. The accused businesswomen graciously remained silent, even though it meant that their application was denied by the Council, because many of the Councilmembers didn’t seem able (or willing?) to recognize that the elderly man had taken leave of his senses. The next day I contacted those members to make sure they understood what had actually transpired, and the elderly gentleman came into the office, in a clearer frame of mind, horribly humiliated by his behavior the night before. It was so painful to watch, even from my safe and uninvolved distance, and to know that it could well be any of us someday. I wanted to cry…

  3. I know what you mean. My grandmother will be 95 in January. Up until a few years ago, she was fiercely independent and living on her own. Now she’s in an assisted living facility and half the time doesn’t know who I am. It’s such a difficult thing to see happen.

  4. Yaaaaaa….. *see my tshirt?*
    Fortunately the degree of dependency sneaks up on you slowly. Also fortunately (for me) my mom is still fairly independent, which has been a blessing since my youngest son is just now approaching adulthood. It is hard to burn the candle on both ends some days!
    But thanks to our great gene pool, it will probably be a very long time before you’re looking after your ‘rents Rob. By then your children will be grown and will probably end up being “the rock” for ALL of you!

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