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Life Lessons: My Parent's Parent

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The following is not a story unique to me. The following is not new. The following is not something we are prepared for. The following catches everyone by surprise. The following will probably be forgotten as soon as you read it.

If you have parents that are getting to that age. That age where they get rebellious, forgetful, and tempting the limits, you know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t quite there yet, allow me to inform you that there isn’t anything you can do to prepare for it.

Yes, there are books, support groups, and specialist. Websites, links, and videos. There is always someone who has gone through it, or the ever classic, someone who knows someone that went through it. Sigh.

I get to come back to Texas, from California, twice a year, to visit the family. Staying with my sister and the family is an adventure. My parents live with her, so in order to help out during my trip I get to be an active member of the family.

Sounds like a pretty typical story, right? Well, it is until my sister informs me that it’s time to have the talk with my dad. Not ‘That Talk’. The talk that comes when the children become the parent and some rules and boundaries need to be set.

Let me paint the picture better. My mother has been living with Dementia for the last 8 years, I’m sure it has taken its toll on my dad. With kids still at home, I’m sure he gets frustrated. Not having their own home to move around in, I’m sure he gets a bad case of cabin fever.

So I need to sit him down and find out what’s really bothering him. What can we do to make the next months, before I visit again, more comfortable for everyone. I have this urge to ground him and dictate some time-outs. Sigh.

He’s been avoiding the big decisions too; plots, life insurance, when to stop driving. I feel like other families have worked all this out a lot sooner than we are. I feel like other parents took care of it so that as kids we don’t have to think about it.

I’m working on setting the right mood for the conversation. Should we sit for coffee, go have a beer, or simply go into his room and start with those four words, “We need to talk…” I remember how those words would set fear all over me.

So I guess this is the moment where I will become my parent’s parent. Right up there with getting my license, having my first beer, and losing my virginity, this will be a time I will never forget. Unlike those times, I’m not looking forward to this one. Sigh.

I don’t think I’ve ever asked for advice or feedback in one of my articles, but maybe, just maybe, it will help me in this transitional period. Maybe, just maybe, we can help someone else during this transitional period.

Transitional period… Sounds so technical.

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