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Early this morning I took my father to his cataracts surgery. And as we went over all the paperwork and preliminary procedures I had the same thoughts I always do when taking my parents to medical appointments:

Who is going to give care for Jon and I when we are older?

Who is going to take us to early morning appointments?

Who is going to make sure that we aren't left in emergency room hallways without a way to use the restroom (The doctors did this to my mother and if I wasn't there to advocate for her then what...) ?

Who is going to make sure that our multiple doctors don't prescribe meds that run counter to each other or interact in harmful ways (been done to my parents multiple times, but thankfully I noticed and corrected)?

Who is going to hold our hands when we have to go in for surgery?

Who is going to clean up our bathroom when we have a stomach flu and get sick everywhere?

Who is going to love us?

I see the future for us as elderly seniors and it scares me.

I was a paid caregiver once in my early 20s- for the mentally ill. It was difficult, emotionally draining work. I had to deal with disgusting bodily fluids. I had to dress and feed and bathe people. I had to manage meals schedules and budgets and a host of other normal life activities most people do for themselves. And I hated it. I hated the smells, the depressing helplessness, the forced observation of troubled minds and bodies degenerating each day. I wasn't very good at it either. (Part of the reason I think I would not have been a good mother.) I let the psychotic rantings of my patients get to me personally. In many ways I am now grateful for that experience as it has prepared me for helping my parents like nothing else could. But I am also filled with guilt because I disliked that work so much and found it so difficult. That I left that field of work and went into something that seemed to fit me better, that was easier. How can I hope to have someone take care of me when I am old and needy when I didn't even want to do it for others when paid to do so? I keep turning over my father's words from last night in my mind- "We took care of you when you were young, why can't you take better care of us?" This morning my mind has twisted that sentiment into: Obviously I don't deserve to have anyone take care of me or love me when I am old if I was not willing to take time out of my life to take care of and raise a child.

I pray for all of those who have no one to care for them. I pray that someone will have mercy on Jon and I and care for us when we are old even though we weren't willing to have children and care for them and even though I wasn't willing to keep caring for the needy when paid to do so.

I am so depressed.


Rho said…
Isn't that why they have nursing homes for old people to get care? I think you guys are waaaay too young to be worrying about that now. You have many more years ahead of you. At least you have a loving husband so you both can be there for each other. You are one huge step ahead of many of us!

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34
Sarah said…
Oh honey, you sound like you are in such a hard place right now. You are doing so much to take care of your parents. I watched my mom and dad do it for 25 years. It's hard and confusing and even after all those years they wondered if they'd done enough. That's not to discourage you - it's to encourage you that it's not about how well you've done as a caregiver, but it's the nature of caregiving that makes it so hard. You're doing just fine.

But you know that even having children doesn't mean that you've earned a caregiver in your old age. You'll need help someday, sure - but you'll find it. You'll hire a part-time aide, you'll rely on your primary care physician, you'll have beloved friends and neighbors, you'll do what you need to do. You have so many years before you need to think about those things. You'll find a solution. You'll be okay. You will.
Anonymous said…
"But I am also filled with guilt because I disliked that work so much and found it so difficult." I'm so sorry that you're in the place you're in right now. But keep in mind that everyone does have different gifts. You have been blessed with many things, but it's no crime or anything to feel guilty over if you may not have been blessed with the patience required to enjoy caregiving. You have many other emotional gifts that God has blessed you with. You are very much a giver, being someone who desires to help many people who are in desperate and unGodly situations--it takes a great deal of stamina to deal with what you've been dealing with re: your parents. Money isn't everything and can't force you to love something you hate, just because you got paid to do it.

I think you should re-read Rho's verse from Matthew, and prayerfully reflect on the fact that you haven't been given (and WON'T be given) any situation that He can't help you through. Dealing with your parents in this way is a trying time and will continue to be so. But, despite not having children, I have serious doubts with the idea that without them you will lack caring, loving people who will help you when you reach that elderly state. God will take care of you then, just as He's doing now. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.

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