My husband and I recently began spending much more one-on-one time with his parents. Things look a bit different now as they have gotten older. Alzheimer’s has a way of interrupting things and making life a little bit more difficult, so we’re staying very close to make sure they have everything they need — from cooking, to cleaning, to making sure things are taken care of on their property.
Our parents spend so much time raising us and pouring into our lives … and then the roles get reversed and we are the ones taking care of them.
There are days that seem totally normal, and then there are those that leave you wondering if your loved ones are still in there. Each day brings both joy and sadness. Their confusion is mixed with simple things that light up their day and bring joy to them like that of a small child.
Caregiving for our parents can be somewhat overwhelming, but in the end more rewarding than anything, and I am quickly learning that these treasured moments with loved ones are undeniably the best thing that comes from caring for them in the later part of their lives.
No two days are the same. There are days that are uneventful and somewhat peaceful and there are days where confusion sets in, and you are left explaining things over and over in a cycle that you think will never end.
There are also moments of pure joy, where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry. One of these happened this past Sunday. Those who know my father-in-law realize that he can be a bit grumpy, but generally a lovable old man. He was in a bit of a mood that day, and continued to question something that he was having a hard time understanding. Then my mother-in-law began to sing “Amazing Grace.” Within a few seconds, my father-in-law forgot about his concern and started singing along with her.
It was at that moment that everything calmed down, the confusion passed, and life felt absolutely normal again. I had to hide my tears with laughter.
Even though there are many tough moments, days, and even weeks, I wouldn't trade any of them for anything. The time that I get to spend with my amazing mother-in-law and father-in-law — the people who lovingly raised my husband — is a blessing to me.
I pray daily that my children feel the same way when my mind doesn't work as well as it used to, and I forget who they are. I pray that they will experience the same joy in taking care of their parents as we experienced in taking care of them as small children.
Our time here on earth is precious, but it just doesn’t seem to last long enough, so it is such a blessing to be able to give back to the ones who have given so much to us. There are many friends and family members who have experienced these same moments and I know they wouldn’t trade those for anything.
So even when the days are hard and the nights are long, share love and understanding — and patience too — remembering that someday, it might be you.
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