as time ticks forward, i try my best to stay present. it is only in fear that the future becomes scary. as my father deals with aging, clearly he needs tools to deal with all the thoughts that overwhelm him, and i need to practice patience and compassion.
i’m realizing that i’m dealing with an 88 year old man who thinks he’s going to die any minute and as a result, acts much like a terrible two’s toddler. the difference being, the toddler is discovering his independence and the world, while the old guy feels like he’s losing his independence and is leaving the world.
these feelings of discovery and loss evoke the same behaviors- the toddler and the old man can appear contrary, disagreeable and grumpy. both the toddler and the old man feel that they’re not getting it their way, and that they don’t get to make their own decisions.
in dealing with my dad, i try and remember the tools i used with our children. i listen closely, giving him my full attention when possible. i empower him with choices of self management, allowing him to realize that while he doesn’t have control of the world and time, he does have control of how he experiences the world. i remind him to see the moment as an opportunity to discover and learn, and life becomes fun. and i set clear boundaries for my own sanity not in order to change or control him.
if i come from a place of unconditional love, in both cases – discovery and loss – the negativity that wants to surface now dissipates, and the toddler and the old man find they actually do have some choices to make in life.
i can choose to create happiness, or i can be mad at the world because it’s not giving me what i want.