I am the baby of my family and the only girl. When I moved back to my hometown after many years of being in a large city, my rational mind knew my parents might someday need me as they aged. But my heart was not prepared. As my parents migrated west from Kansas and South Dakota they left their parents behind so I was rarely exposed to older people and the realities of aging.
In January 2011 my mother began experiencing severe abdominal pain, alarming bruising, and her first hospitalization in nearly thirty-seven years. My mother began swimming in a haze of pain and medication, a swim she would repeat many times in the next eighteen months.
My family needed me and in the coming months I tried to help as much as possible. I started shopping for my parents, running errands, doing chores, keeping house. In some ways, I was and am amazed at my strength. However, in quiet moments I felt guilt because of my limitations. I thought I could keep up with maintaining my parents ten acre farm. However, with no experience with the equipment and my own home to keep, I fell short, I failed.
My family has grown closer, we are more liberal with endearments and “I love yous”. And my mother’s health is stabilized. But those months haunt me and in my dark moments I know they were merely a dress rehearsal for the years to come.