The other part of the wheel turning is the changes in our aging parents. My mom, a fiercely independent woman who lives 2 states away from us, has begun to have more significant cardiac issues. A thankfully mild heart attack resulted in a lot of tests this fall. The verdict was a clog that would not be well treated by a stint. She is on medications instead and doing pretty well, but I can see that her energy level is less. She lives on the second floor but thankfully had a chair lift installed for her second husband and is now able to use that for herself.
For the first time in my kids most recent memories, she did not feel able to come down to spend Christmas with us. Instead we drove up there on Christmas Eve to spend the day with her and exchange gifts. We all had a great time and the kids all agreed that the Christmas Eve outing was something very special.
While I don't think she is likely to pass on immenently, it will happen. And heart will likely play a role. Heart disease runs strongly on both sides of my family--it was my major impetus to a vegetarian lifestyle over 25 years ago. Talking about Nana's heart issues has been very hard for 2 of my kids. One older one was very angry over how long it took for all the tests to happen and to be evaluated. Another was fearful and clingy, desperately afraid that his Nana would not be there to see certain milestones and events. Of course I can not say with certainty that she will, but there is also no reason to live our life assuming that she won't. And living in that way is not living richly.
So we talked a lot about the wheel of life and living each day with anyone, as fully as possible. Time spans are not assured for any of us, we just notice it more keenly with those whose lives most intimately touch our own.
My father in law is also aging. Thus far he has done well, still works part time, still bowls with his friends on a local league, still active in his church. His hearing has deteriorated a bit, but of most concern is his vision. I drove with him last year and his driving was to be frank--scary. He is a big city person, driving at big city speeds, with a seniors reaction time. It was not good. This past year he had a hard time passing the vision test for his license and had to go to his eye doctor. He was cleared to drive but his doctor asked that he significantly limit his night driving. Dad was very shaken by this. He loves to drive and sees the loss of driving as a huge loss of independence. Thankfully that has not happened to him yet, but it is likely to be so in the future and helping him deal with this will be very hard.