Seeing Old Through New Eyes

“I’d rather be bored than bored and depressed.”

This was my son’s response when I asked him yesterday why he would prefer to stay behind at my brother’s house (and potentially alone) than to come along with me and my husband to take my dad out to dinner again last night.

My son has been a trooper these last few days. He’s sat through several visits and outings with his grandpa but yesterday he needed a break.  I really don’t blame him.  It’s a lot of “reality” for a 10-year-old to process. My son is a sensitive and compassionate little boy.  He has a big heart and watching my dad unable to do so many things he used to do makes him sad and uncomfortable.

His response reminded me of the times when I was a little girl and my family would travel from Arizona back to Michigan to visit my grandparents. I loved visiting my dad’s side of the family but I dreaded the visits with my mom’s side of the family. My Grandma Stamm (Grandpa Stamm died before I was born) was older and I didn’t know her very well.  Her house was old and it always smelled funny…like propane.

I vividly remember one visit when we had to go over to her house for dinner. Every spoonful of scalloped potatoes on my plate, felt like a spoonful of poison sliding down my throat. I feared the food was as old as the house we were in and the old woman who lived there.  It was that same visit when I briefly got locked in her bathroom too, the rusty old doorknob got stuck and I panicked.  The 30 seconds I was trapped inside the old felt like a lifetime.

I can now see those annual trips to visit Grandma Stamm through a different set of eyes.  I can now see them through my mom’s eyes.  I am now the daughter who watches an elderly parent navigate their way through these final stages of life.  It can be hard.  It can be exhausting.  And, yes, it can be sad.

But, one thing I’ve learned as I grow older is that you can’t run away from it.  You can’t avoid the sad. You must face it and walk through it.  Even though these visits are bittersweet, I’m grateful for this time I’ve had with my dad this week,  And, I would much prefer bittersweet than a head and heart weighed down by a ton of “I should haves.”

What sad things in life are you tempted to run away from?

One thought on “Seeing Old Through New Eyes

  1. Jeremy Riley

    That is a difficult time, Eileen. I cannot imagine going through that right now. One of the greatest paradigm shifts for me in questions of suffering/sadness comes from Frankl. His insight of finding a redemptive element is all the more powerful since he went through the Holocaust.

    I’m tempted to run away from plans that shake, crumble, and have to be aborted.


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