Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Switching Roles

Speaking of the accident (I refuse to call it my accident), it has been the topic of conversation among my friends and acquaintances quite often lately. Mostly because people were shocked that I was driving a rented Ford Freestar. (What a giant piece of crap that thing is.)

Inevitably, someone will ask me, "But why did that woman just run right into you like that?"

And I would always answer with, "Well, she was old," as if that is some kind of excuse.

But then when I got the police report, I found out that she was the same age as my parents.

I thought it was funny. Shocking, but still kind of funny. And I told everybody my little, funny, my-parents-are-old story.

And then my parents showed up. And it wasn't so funny anymore.

My parents enjoyed my little story just as much as everyone else. So much, in fact, that they shared it with everyone back home. But I failed to see the humor, once I realized just how freaking old my parents have really become.

When the hell did that happen?

My parents had us when they were relatively young, so throughout my life, my parents have been younger than those of my peers. And my mother's parents are still both alive and relatively healthy. So it is hard for me to think of my parents as old people.

My mother keeps telling me how old her mother is getting. And I want to scream at her, "Yeah! I know the feeling!" My mom can't seem to grasp the simplest plans or remember the most mundane facts. And we've lived here for seven years, but she keeps referring to this base by the wrong name.

My father has always been a very intelligent man. He holds a Master's Degree, worked for an Admiral in the Navy, and ran a police department for many years. Now he can't understand the intricacies of a Visa Check Card.

He tells me the same stories over and over again. Which isn't too surprising since I do the same thing to my husband and friends. But he'll change the characters each time he tells it. So the story of the parade where my kids got caught in the rain has involved into a story about how my nephews got to ride in the parade. They weren't even there!

It's scary to see your parents getting older. And I'm not quite sure when we switched roles. But now I'm worried about their lack of life insurance and their amount of debt. Especially since they're still responsible for my grandparents.

You know, I always jokingly say that it will be my brother's duty to take care for my parents when they are old, since they have been caring for his children for the last five years. But I don't really see that happening.

I sit back and look at four generations of my family. And all I can do is try to make the best plans so that my kids don't ever have to worry for us the way we have to worry for them.

There may be no way to stop aging, but I swear I'll take better care of myself than my parents have. I don't want my kids to have to switch roles with us for a long, long time.

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