Aging Parents

aging parentsNot until my thirties did I come to know the woman who replaced the grandmother I never knew. My Great Aunt Daisy never wanted children of her own. Yet at the age of forty she insisted on raising her two young nieces when their mother died of ovarian cancer.

My Great Aunt Daisy’s strong opinions and harsh comments intimidated me as a little girl. Daisy boldly expressed her political stance on world affairs. She wrote letters to her elected officials, told people exactly what she thought, and was ruthlessly devoted to feeding the poor.

Not until Daisy turned 92-years-old did I get close enough to discover the facade of the opinionated aunt who kept me distant in my youth. Diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in her uterus she became dependent on others for the first time in her life.

The looming possibility of Daisy’s death created meaningful conversations with my mother regarding her experiences growing up. As she revealed these stories, my appreciation and curiosity grew for the woman who had sacrificed to raise my mother.

In response to her illness, I wrote an introspective letter to honor Daisy. At the time I started the letter I had no idea that she influenced my life. During the process of writing the letter I realized her impact on me as well as my mother, which turned into a desire for us to record Daisy’s stories.

Taping her stories inspired conversations that uncovered the past pain of her childhood and brought understanding of the aunt who should have been a loving grandmother figure to me growing up. The respect we showed Daisy, by expressing an interest in her life, softened her heart towards us. As her abrasive attitude changed we delighted in Daisy’s insightful thoughts, intriguing stories, and humorous comments. The broken relationship between my mother and Daisy, created by years of rejection and criticism, evolved to a place of deep appreciation.

The Bible says, “Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God.” Leviticus 19:32. When Daisy was asked whether we could record her stories, she responded emphatically, “Well, how will you be remembered by posterity if you don’t open up your trap and talk.”

Daisy’s right! We must make time to hear the stories of our aging loved ones to understand our heritage: the people we came from, the beliefs we have, and the reasons we do the things we do.

Coach’s Challenge: Get out a tape recorder and begin asking your aging parents and relatives about their lives. Healing and reconciliation can take place in a difficult relationship. Not only can we learn from their past, we can honor them and receive the blessing that God promises in the ten commandments. “Honor your father and your mother…that you may live long and that life may go well with you.”

God’s Word To Live By:

Leviticus 19:32
Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the LORD.

Rise in the presPsalm 68:6 
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Job 12:12
Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding.

Proverbs 17:6
Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

Exodus 21:12
Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

 

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