Love is in the air during this week of celebrating Valentines Day. My parents were married on Valentines Day, 1941, so this day always makes me reflect on their 56 years together. Both raised during the tumultuous depression years, they built a successful life together from humble beginnings. True partners in business and life, they raised 5 daughters, and enjoyed many triumphs and together faced many challenges along their journey. Their love certainly endured the test of time.
Tom Brokaw’s book, “The Greatest Generation” talks about this World War II generation’s perseverance through difficult times as a testament to their extraordinary character. These men and women developed values that were rooted in personal responsibility, duty, honor and faith. I reflect on the stories that my parents’ shared of their childhood years, young married life and it certainly was no question where they strength and fortitude to face life challenges were formed.
Nothing however, prepared either of them or our family for their aging years when dementia entered my dad’s world and later Parkinson’s disease for my mother. We witnessed our tall, strong father slowly be swept into another world, while my mother struggled to live with the roller coaster of emotions of each new day.
What seemed to hurt the most was their growing loss of independence. The role reversal that takes place between parents and adult children is not natural or easy in any way. In my parents’ case, it was small signs that alerted us to their need for help. Our constant struggle was when to step in and how to do it with grace. Sometimes it went fairly well, and other times it left all of us hurting – to the core.
My work today is centered on the life changing journey of caring for my parents. Through Dad’s dementia journey and then later walking beside my sweet mom as she gracefully fought the battle of her life with Parkinson’s Disease, I could not be more thankful for experiencing it all with them, and honored in what I was able to do for them.
Their love brought them through the most joyous and darkest of days. And although their aging years were not easy, I was immensely blessed to have been a part of all of it, for the difficult times made me a stronger person and made me realize that..
Deep, strong and faithful love ALWAYS endures the test of time.