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Home Before Dark

By Marky Olson

I knew my parents would age…someday.
Emily Dickinson told me “Because I could not stop for death/
he kindly stopped for me…”
But living it overwhelms knowing it.
I knew I would parent my parents.
But overturning the hourglass of sand
means knowing each grain as it falls.
e e cummings said “i carry you in my heart.”
Letting go of a parent one grain at a time
is like living life in reverse is what I say.
Profound strength helped me carry them…
Seven years of letting the grains go from my heart.
I managed to put out most of the fires,
which kept me from sitting and holding my mother’s hand.
But I forgive me. Had I done so, Mom and I, we would have cried too much.
From his nursing home bed, my father’s wandering mind said “Home before dark.”
My mind wondered: does he see me as 12 years old again, or will he be with Mom tonight?
A forest of fear. But pocket parks of love from others were everywhere:
A doctor who held my father’s hands as he said “We must let my love of 65 years go.”
The tears of young caregivers who cherished the wise haven of old age.
My husband, always my home.
My sweet sons-in-law who watched my dad’s beloved OSU Beavers with him in his 90 degree apartment and who
carried my mom into their un-accessible homes for family dinners.
My daughters, walking slowly into Baba’s hospice room.
A beloved 3 year old grandson who explained to me about ladders to heaven.
One brother in my heart and one always just a phone call away.
Sit beside the ocean and say goodbyeyou’ll
see. The circle of life shines all the way to heaven.

Excerpted from Caregiving for Your Elderly Parents