Sunday, October 29, 2006

Companions

This trip was the first time that I really became aware that my parents are aging. At 85 and 80, they are in excellent shape both physically and mentally, but the signs of slowing down were more evident in Pa, and there were definite limitations in the amount of physical activity he could endure. It is a bit sad to sit next to him and wonder how much long he will be a part of our lives. I also gained insight into the value of companionship as one ages, and we don't really realize early in our marriages, how much those accumulated memories and shared experiences blend to make us a cohesive unit after 50 years of marriage-those personality quirks and annoying habits become things we adore about eachother and can laugh about. I am beginning to see how a life long companion is like one's right arm; how difficult it must be to lose that companion. It's funny how one's priorities change as we age. For Ma, seeing the sights in Yangzhou was of no real importance compared to staying back and watching over Pa. I am inspired by their ability to stay upbeat and to maintain a sense of humor despite being thousands of miles from home and not being able to take full advantage of travelling. To enjoy life, despite setbacks, and to make the most of things-I used to see this often in my elderly stroke patients, who adapted to their conditions much better than those who were younger. I have often wondered why this is true- is the previous generation better able to cope, because their lives have gone through the trials and tribulations of war, the Great Depression, immigration etc. , or if it is just that you gain perspective in accepting what life deals you and you make the best of it as you get older.

I suppose the conclusion I have drawn from all of this, is that I shouldn't take for granted that my parents will always be in the condition they are now, and that I need to spend quality time with them and learn about their lives while they are here. In other words, live to have no regrets.

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