The aging family tree

photo taken by Humorous-Juniorous

My oldest son is a constant reminder to me that I am getting older. His leave-taking in just a few more weeks is both exciting and worrisome for me. I know he is ready to branch out and move on… it’s me who is concerned about the experiences he will encounter.

My  mother has amazing energy and drive. She is still working part-time at 71, although she officially retired at the end of 2008. Now that she has a new hip (early 2009)  she made the decision to get a new knee so she can keep up with her schedule and her travel desires. The surgery went well on Tuesday and she is on the road to recovery.  She won’t be behind the wheel on the road for several months, though, which will be frustrating to my active mother. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that she will be amazing her P.T. in her efforts to get back on her feet.

My father is an old, old man at 74. He visited us in the spring of 2008 –it was the first time in 5 years that we had seen him– and although I had heard the aging in his voice with every illness, it was a shock to see him work so very hard to get up from a chair…to see his hands trembling.  He has fallen several times lately (which may or may not be related to his early stage Parkinson’s Disease) and his latest fall produced a broken tibia. He is recovering in a health care facility since his wife, a petite 81yo, simply cannot lift a weak 270lb man. My siblings and I are taking turns, checking in daily, and wondering if and when we need to purchase plane tickets.

My husband’s parents are basically the same age as my parents, but they are the ones who have changed the least somehow: no major hospitalizations (not counting my FIL’s heart attack 15 years ago) and no bionic body parts.  Oh, they no longer wrestle on the floor with the youngest grandchildren, as they did when the older ones were little, but they have joined in on the leaf fights and they still attend the high school football and basketball games, sitting up high on the bleachers for the best view.  Grandpa no longer jogs but he still gets in his 2 mile walk each morning. Sure, they take naps every day, but I do that myself when I can! Sure, they have more lines on their faces and white hair has replaced the silver, but that is just looking the part when you are great-grandparents four times over, right?

I’m at the age where I am looking at the limbs –my children– as they stretch and grow beyond what I hope has been a strong and stable trunk, and I’m also watching the roots with concern as they grip firmly in the life-supporting soil (and praying we aren’t looking at life-support in the near future).


I am honored to have received this award from Hilary at The Smitten Image this week.

8 responses to “The aging family tree

  1. Great post!! It is interesting to see how people age. My gram has been physically young but mentally old for about 20 years. She can do things, but she thinks she is too old for everything.

  2. For me it is harder to see my parents age, than to have my kids on their own. It´s great to see the kids gain independence, once you get over the lonesome “nest”. But to see your parents turn into helpless, needy people, who were once the support in your life…..that just gets me so down!
    Great post Karen!

  3. Excellent post my friend. I enjoyed the read on this. I can just imagine what it is like to watch your children grow and leave the nest. I look at my mom and think that she is just amazing at her age. I’m so grateful for her 🙂

  4. My father is in incredible shape–and still quite handsome–for a 71-year old man. He travels a lot with his girlfriend (and her money) to places like Switzerland and Argentina.

    My MIL is 68 and looks and acts 55–that woman has twice the energy I do. Sadly, my FIL is 74 but acts 85.

  5. This is an excellent post. You have articulated things we have all felt. Last summer when I was home my cousin Doug and I were watching the “little kids” and realizing that not only were they grown, they had grown kids. That came as a bit of a shock — and the Aunts and Uncles are sporting hearing aids and canes.

  6. Yea… I’ve got a whole lot of all of that going on myself these days… My family tree seems to be turning cartwheels and summersaults! I’m finding it hard to keep up!

  7. So beautifully written – has made me reflect on my own family tree..

  8. Oh that letting go is hard.. on both ends of the spectrum. None of my kids’ grandparents are still with us. We are officially that oldest generation..