With my mother's recent health issues, I find that spring has been burdened with additional poignancy. This year's greening of land and trees took place while my mom was ill, just as it did when my father was approaching the end of his life. I had plenty of deja vu and a good dose of new anxious moments in May.
When I was helping my mom, and earlier when I was helping my dad, I often thought of the reversal of roles when our parents grow old - that is, if we are fortunate enough to have them grow old. After our parents spend so many years being the older, wiser ones in the relationship -- the ones who give advice on houses, cars, child-raising, and jobs, who still call us "the kids," who want us to call when we get safely home after visiting them -- there may come a point where the responsibility and decisions and assistance and oversight become the duty of the adult child.
I think this is why my father's death affected me so deeply and for so long. I did not resume life the way I thought I would after his death. He lived a long life, and his death released him from poor health and distressing disability, and so there were those in his life who felt I should not have grieved as I did. We were very close because we were very similar in nature, but the loss was more than the loss of a loved parent. The day he had his stroke he became, in a way, my child as well as my parent, and his death was, in a way, the death of my child as well as my father.
So that is the background to this poem on this Poetry Monday in June, the month of my father's birth and death, the month of Father's Day here in Canada, which always came on or around my father's birthday, the month when my mother is once again relatively healthy but I am all too aware that the outcome could have been different.
I know that many people out there, those I know in real life and those I know in blogland, have been through this already, or are going through it, or will go through it eventually. No matter what our relationships with our parents are like, when duty calls, many of us must answer. I am not alone; you are not alone; we are not alone.
My Parent, My Child
There is a kind of symmetry to life
When the child of the parent
Becomes the parent,
And the parent becomes --
At least by times --
In the beginning,
Mother and father care for the newborn,
Raise the toddler and adolescent,
Cheer on the young adult;
All the while
Feeding, nursing, advising, comforting.
In the end,
The child, now middle-aged -- or more --
Turns the picture on its head,
Helps to give the hourglass a final turn,
As time runs out for mom or dad;
And feeding, nursing, advising, comforting
Are gifts most tender,
Returned to the giver.
I wish for strength, for wisdom, for compassion.
I wish for patience, and gentleness, and good humour.
I wish for good memories to be stronger than sad ones.
I wish these things for me;
And, if you have ever had parents of any kind,
I wish them for you.
|Image courtesy of Pixabay.
Don't forget to hop over to visit Diane and Delores, who also have poetry posted today. And join us in the comments or on your own blog! If you post your poem on your blog, please leave your blog link in the comments so we can find you.