A young boy was speaking with his father and he asked him “How did we get born?” The father said, “Adam and Eve had children and when those children grew up they had children and that at has continued to this very day.”
The young boy asked his mother the same question, and she replied by saying, "First, there were monkeys, and those monkeys had children and slowly the monkeys began to turn into people like us.”
The child then went back to his father and said, “You did not tell me the truth. Mother just told me we were monkeys and the monkeys turned into people.”
The father said, “She was just talking about her side of the family.”
My good friend Lorrie Caplan-Stern, in her wonderful book “Giving Birth to My Parents”, tells the story of how - as she moved on with her life - she realized that she and her parents had gone in different directions and that she "in a sense" had to reverse roles and become the parent to her aging mother and father - so that they could all enjoy one another and strengthen their family relationship. I urge my readers to read this book.
My young friends, at a certain point in our lives we need to come to grips with the truism that we are no longer the child being raised, but the adult who must, just as our parents did when we were born, go through on the job training and learn to take steps to teach mom and dad how to live their new aging life. Easy it is not, but done right it yields big rewards including – Lots of Love.
As the years go by we suddenly realize that our experiences in life and the decisions we make are in a different generation from that of our parents, and we need to have the patience and take the time to share our experience with each other so that we all understand each other’s thought process in raising us. Thus, as we listen to and help them understand why our life decisions vary from theirs, at the same time we gradually help them adapt to the changes that are taking place in theirs life.
We become the teachers and they are the children.
As Lorrie so excitedly says, this has made a wonderful change in her relationship with her parents and helped them make the journey though the final stage of their life with happiness and joy.
Each day, in my own life, living an active role in an assisted living center I watch as this process evolves. Those residents whose children visit regularly and communicate their feelings and thoughts with them are vibrant, active and happy. Those who are at different levels of understanding about their children’s lives are sad, lonely and have no level of happiness.
We all need to recognize that, as Lorrie points out, it is only by working together as a family and by being willing to change our belief system to meet the new challenges we face, can we truly say we lived our lives in bliss.
Bernard ("Bernie") Otis is the author of the upcoming international bestseller, "How To Prepare For Old Age (If You Haven't Married Into A Wealthy Family)". If you have a question or comment, or a personal story about life and aging, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.