I Don’t Want to Get Old

I didn’t want to go to the assisted living home to visit Mike Rose, my friend’s dad. But I’m glad I did…

When I said, “Let me know if there is ANY way I can help!” I thought I was sincere. But, apparently, I meant that I would take my friend to coffee or pray for her. When Kristen asked if I could pop in to visit her dad a few times while she was gone, I panicked a bit. Mike is 73 years old with advanced Parkinson’s disease and extreme dementia.

“Of course I will go!” I managed to speak as my mind raced and my heart pounded.

It’s not that I’m scared of older people. But, I felt awkward, insecure, and a bit terrified of walking into a facility I’ve only been to once, visiting a man I’ve only met once (who wouldn’t remember me).

What would we talk about? How would this help him? Is it too late to get out of this?

Thankfully three other friends joined me for the first visit. And you know what, it was super sweet. Mike seemed a little overwhelmed four ladies he didn’t know were all trying to talk to him at once, but it wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated. It was even fun. I think we overdosed him on sugar, but he seemed pleased we came. And, I felt really honored to serve this man who is my dear friend’s dad.

The next visit was his birthday, and one other friend and I went to visit Mike. He was more alert and talkative. He told us about his dad’s shop he used to work at that he eventually took over. He said a lot of other things. We couldn’t understand him, but we still listened. And nodded. And let him talk.

Hopefully, he enjoyed our interest in him as much as he enjoyed the chocolate cake and coke we brought.

His shaky hands and wandering speech are pronounced, but his intense gaze and strong constitution have not diminished. I never met Mike before Parkinson’s. But, I can imagine him on his ranch in Texas, so handsome and hard working.

I don’t really want to get old enough to need a wheelchair, assistance to go to the bathroom, and reminders that it’s my birthday. But I probably will. It’s humbling and scary. Being with Mike reminded me that it’s hard, and it’s also okay. I don’t want to get old. But, I pray my kids will serve me as beautifully as my friend is serving her dad.

And hopefully, my friend’s kids will come to visit me too.

Writing about parenting, body image, faith, and grief.