If you’re lucky, you spend your first 20 years being taken care of and learning to take care of yourself. For some of us that takes us well into our thirties. After that you spend the next twenty years (plus or minus twenty) taking care of others. And then, I realized as a traveled to the Ville of Steuben to take care of the Aunt of Sophanne, you have to slowly accept that you need help being taken care of until you are, in fact, dependent again.
What is puzzling is the disconnect between the taking care of and the being taken care of stage. If you have spent 30 or more years taking care of family as they age, watching life take its natural course, you have knowledge of what is to come for yourself.
Is it just a matter of “Do not go gently into that dark night”? I hope that when my time comes, I have a caretaker available and the grace to know that it is time to accept assistance.
I hope that I realize that no longer giving but receiving has value as well. A change in the status of independence does not lessen what you have to offer in life. But I think what happens is that when it’s time, the patient refuses to accept their own limitations and then is treated like a stubborn child. I amend the above. I hope that I have a caretaker, find the grace to accept assistance, and in turn am treated with the respect for the human being that I am.
For now I am grateful for those who have traveled this precarious path of leading someone gently from independence to dependence. Everywhere I have turned, there have been strangers confirming my experience and sharing their own. Not only do I value the advice they have, it’s also a great comfort to know that you are not alone.