Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Life's Sons and Daughters

By Luella May
“. . .Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.”
Kalil Gibran
I have held this in my heart from the moment I gave birth to my first child. I still watch my children as they go through life's journey and see them as sons and daughters of the cosmos. It has been my privilege to have them in my life from little babies to the adults that they are now.
The above rendition does not pertain to merely to children but to every human in the world. Oh, if we were to view every individual in this manner, we would live in a perfect world. Today though, I am speaking of a certain segment of society, our mothers and fathers. They, the bows from which we shot forth, also deserve the same deference. They too are sons and daughters of the cosmos, no different from ourselves, and no different from our very own children.
At a certain point, however, life makes a swift change and we find that those sturdy bows that once cared for us are the ones that now need our care. It is we who are now responsible for their welfare, for their everyday sustenance. It is very important that their value never diminishes in our eyes. They may become very fragile, but they are nothing less than the most beautiful and delicate crystal ever held.
Many of us are our parents caregivers. Although being the most demanding job ever, physically, mentally, and emotionally, it is by far the most rewarding. You see, as you are caring for your parent, you are giving back to them the love and nurturing that they gave you. We are the ones who now sing the lullabies. We are the ones that now rescue them when they fear the dark. We are now the ones that conform our schedules to sleep when they sleep.
While we are taking charge, nursing them, taking them to the doctor, scheduling their daily activities, it is very important to always let their individuality shine. The hardest thing for a person to do is to surrender their independence to another. Always include them in the decision making process, and let them have an integral part in their day-to-day activities. Make every day fun, even to the smallest activity. Find a certain time of the day to spend quality time with your parent, doing something that they enjoy. Keep quality in their life.
While caring for a parent, days become very structured, very uniform, only to be interrupted with rushing your loved one to the hospital or calling an ambulance. It is very easy to fall into the role of being the “boss” and not giving the parent a voice in decisions, be they medical, or whatever else, just because we “know better.” And many times we do know better. However, we should be careful to never let our parent feel that they are insignificant. Sometimes we gently but firmly have to tell our parent that this is really for their own good. I used to make a joke of having to tell my mom that a specific situation had to be. I used to say, “Remember when I was little and you used to tell me that something was for my own good? Well, now it's my turn.” And I would laugh, and then she would laugh. Laughter is contagious. But whenever possible, give them a voice in their care, in their activities, in their daily life. This is so important.
Our elderly mothers and fathers have their own preferences. These preferences should be honored, along with their wishes. I was at a nursing home recently when I noticed a well meaning daughter blatantly disregarding her mother's wishes. In my capacity, I was unable to intercede, but merely observed simply aghast. What would I have said? “Listen sweetie, I am your mother and will always be your mother. . .” That would have been the beginning. And I wouldn't have stopped anytime soon.
To ensure that health and final arrangement wishes are honored, everyone should have a living will. However, this is not always the case. Regardless, our parents deserve to have their wishes honored. As their children, this should be our primary concern. The hardest thing I ever had to do was stand by and watch the non-resuscitate order go into effect when my mother went into cardiac arrest. I wanted so badly to violently grab the nurse next to me by the hair, neck, it really didn't matter, and yell in her face as loudly as I could DO SOMETHING NOW! You don't realize how you will react until the situation is upon you. No rehearsals, this is it.
Given a diagnosis of cancer or other serious disease, your parent should have full say on the treatment they receive. For example, I only use alternative health methods. I would not opt to be treated with chemotherapy and radiation. My children would not agree with this at all, but to go against my wishes would be nothing less than a grievous assault on my very soul. By the way, a physician telling a patient that they are terminal is nothing less than emotional rape. Cancer can indeed be cured by natural methods, but this is for another article. In the same way, if a parent opts for conventional medicine, again, that is their decision. I would do everything in my power to convince them to go the alternative route but, in the end, the decision is theirs. We do not have the right to force our will upon another. Our children are not our possession and neither are our parents.
In the end, we all belong to the Creator. We were made in His image and likeness, every one of us. Our children, our parents, sisters, brothers, families, friends, even the strangers that we briefly encounter, they are merely loaned to us for a time. Let us cherish each other as the entities we really are. As a caregiver, we know that our time with our moms and dads is not long. They will be going back to the Creator soon. Our time together is almost up, the appointed time is nigh. Keep the quality in their lives until the time when they soar off to their new life. Lastly, don't wait until they are almost departing to build those sweet memories. Start today, and one day when they are gone, the sweet memories will live forever.
Luella May, Contributor to The Best Years in Life recommends you visit http://www.tbyil.com/