As with grandma Alice and her granddaughter, holiday get-togethers are a must for many of us. It’s tradition, or it’s expected, or it seems like the right thing.
We can be stressed and we can also look forward to them a lot. They can be fun, even if it’s work to put it on or get there, traveling during a busy season.
We have a reason to see people we don’t get to see so often.
It’s a good time to reflect and appreciate every person who can join us at these parties and family get-togethers. We can find something in every one of them that is positive.
And the best reason to treasure them is you never know when it will be the last one with the people who join you this time around.
I was reminded of this at a birthday celebration I had this year. We gathered some friends and family, had a great little party and so much fun. We laughed and talked and enjoyed excellent food and wine. It was beautiful.
Our dear friend, Bruce, shared that evening with us. He was a founding partner at AgingParents.com and so talented and helpful. Shortly after this event, he died suddenly of a heart attack.
Gone in a moment. I was so grateful that we had the party and so glad he came and enjoyed his time with everyone. I didn’t think or know that it would be the last time I would ever see him. It never occurred to me that a person my age would be gone so suddenly.
Yes, we’re aging, and we’re boomers, but I didn’t think of him as “old.” He was my age.
I was glad that I had made Bruce feel welcome and that I told him I was happy to share the evening with him. Likewise, he said he was go glad he could be there. Looking back, I had a sense of peace in knowing that he truly enjoyed the celebration.
We never know who will be with us the next time around. As our aging parents get up there in years, we are more aware than ever that we need to treasure these events.
Alice, Mikol’s 91 year-old mom, often jokes that she doesn’t even buy green bananas anymore. She is saying she never knows, at her age, when her time will be up. She accepts that every day is a gift.
And we learn to follow her lead. Besides looking at what Alice calls “being on borrowed time” for our aging parents, we also need to consider risks like dementia, strokes, memory loss and other things that can dramatically change them as they age. Whether it is family or friends, we need to be grateful for our chance to be with them. And just be in the moment, not looking back at any past hurts or problems, only looking at right now.
So, it may be a way to acknowledge that every family gathering, especially with aging parents, is a gift if we imagine that there is only the one, only this moment.
We will never need to look back with regret if we are extra patient with an aging parent, extra tolerant of the difficult ones, extra kind to anyone struggling, and putting out our best efforts to thank everyone for being there with us.
We wish you a thoughtful season and peace. May your next time with those you love be bright.
Carolyn Rosenblatt is a Whittier native and an attorney and mediator now living in San Rafael, Calif. Contact her at 415-459-0413, visit AgingParents.com or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Together with her husband, psychologist Dr. Mikol Davis, she is a founder of AgingParents.com, a resource for families located in San Rafael. Together they provide expert advice and dispute resolution services to individuals, families and institutions. She is the author of “The Boomer’s Guide to Aging Parents,” a help for those who are taking on the caregiver role in their lives. She has a personal mission to protect elders, keep their caregivers in emotional control and to instill confidence in all of us as we face the challenges of aging.
Until next time,
Carolyn Rosenblatt and Mikol Davis,
AgingParents.com, 930 Irwin Street, Suite 215, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA