When We No Longer Have Aging Parents–or a Spouse

“I’ve stepped to the front of the line.” Although R had been
widowed for years prior to her elderly mother’s death, she often
said that after her mother died. It wasn’t until later that it made
an impact and I understood the meaning. I sensed her feeling:
no longer was someone ahead of her to protect her.
Psychologically, did she still feel her 90+ year-old mother had
been  a protector? a buffer? a first line of defense? I wondered.

Indeed, she had us: her son and me, her daughter-in-law. We could and would share her responsibility and be there for her. That said, she cherished independence and was an intelligent, fully functioning, involved woman. Although grateful, she must have considered us back-up.

With these thoughts, I’m back–or trying to come back, having truly stepped to the front of the line. My husband never recovered from complications that followed his heart valve surgery in February. The ensuing 4 months were like a yoyo as he progressed, then lost ground. Each challenge that offered a chance of turning the tide failed. He died on June 15th.

“I’ve stepped to the front of the line.” Now I get it. Or perhaps I’m just learning. My husband was an only child; we have no children; I have an unmarried brother who lives on the other side of the country; our parents are gone.

I look at life–my life–differently now: like the person who’s at the front of the line and must alone take charge. Although I can share excellent information about helping parents age well until the end, I never thought about a spouse–much less my spouse. He was aging very well, or so I–and I think everyone who knew him–thought. He, who had only been hospitalized once to have his tonsils out at age 5, is gone.

Last summer I registered a new blog,”Inching Towards 80,” thinking I’d launch it some time during 2016. (It’s on hold for now.)  Of course we’re all inching towards 80 from the time we’re born. About 20 years ago my husband’s doctor remarked, that he “was entering the zone,” this after my husband told him about a colleague’s untimely, unexpected death while commuting to his job in New York City on the train. I thought it an odd comment then. I understand it now; just like I understand “I’ve stepped to the front of the line.”

To be continued……


3 thoughts on “When We No Longer Have Aging Parents–or a Spouse

  1. So very sorry for your loss.
    It must be difficult for you now, but please don’t give up on this blog. You have helped me and countless others with your insights.
    Hope to hear from you again.

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