AGING PARENTS/WHAT DO THEY WANT FROM ME?
I am 86 years old and I have two children so I guess that makes me an aging parent. I enjoy talking to people, particularly young people. I ask police officers how the crook business is. That always gets a smile. I talk to bank tellers and ask for samples. That always gets a smile. I talk to anyone and everyone. What I find interesting is the response I get with my closing comment. I generally always end my conversation with a young person with, “Be careful out there and call your mother.” Mostly I get a surprised look and a smile and a comment like, “o.k., I will.” or, “I haven’t talked to her in awhile.” and sometimes just a guilty look. Amazingly, they don’t seem to forget it. If I happen to see them again, they smile and say, “I called my mother.”
I can’t tell you what every parent wants. I believe I can tell you what we don’t want. We don’t want to be left out of the loop, the loop being the family; you, your spouse, our grand children, your in-laws, and your friends. Aside from respect, kindness, and consideration, we need to know what’s going on in your life. We need to know the little things that happen in our family. How you did do this week at Mah Jong or poker, what movies have you seen, what you have going on for next week, how are the kids doing in school, etc. We need to know that we haven’t been put out to pasture or placed on the back burner. We need to be in touch. Most of all, we don’t want to feel forgotten. At the same time, we don’t want to bother you.
You have a cell phone 24/7 so give us a call, perhaps when you’re waiting in line for something. Bring us up to date. I know, I know, you’re going to have to hear about a friend’s surgery or Mrs. Fein slipped and fell in the mall. So what? You forgot how to listen? (The more you talk, the less you’ll have to listen.) I realize that some of us don’t move into modern times as easily as others, and you’re also going to hear, (more than once, I’m afraid), about when gas was 24 cents a gallon, and the comedians were a lot funnier (and a lot cleaner) then. O.K., O.K. So once in awhile we slip into, “the good old days.” Is that so bad? Then give us some of your good old days.
You have to understand that when the phone rings and we answer and we hear, “Hello Ma (or Mom or Mama or Pa or Pop or Dad or Daddy) it’s your loving daughter” (or son), to us it’s like manna from heaven. The back doesn’t hurt as much, the sun is a little brighter and love is coming through the phone.
Listen, I love to talk, but enough is enough. Be careful out there and call your mother.