Waiting In The Wings

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I can’t wait another minute to find out what’ll happen next! I’m on the waiting list of daughters who are mothers - sandwiched right in between the two... just waiting in the wings, while waiting for the dust to settle. I’m waiting my turn to start the next phase of my life... when I won’t be waiting on others hand and foot. But, why wait when I could do it now? I don’t need to wait and see, or wait around...I can start living the next phase now, before the wait is over. And what am I really waiting for anyway? It’s not like there’s an accident waiting to happen down the road. And, hey... wait a second - don’t good things come to those who wait?  So, I guess I’ll wait it out ...take a wait-and-see attitude. Maybe there is no “next phase.” Maybe today is all I have, and there’s no waiting for tomorrow....Maybe, I just have to hurry up and wait...but not wait until the end. Life is too short to wait around...

What? I’m talking about living in limbo...the in-between place where caretaking-ACAP*s often reside while (bluntly said) waiting for their aging parent(s) to pass. It’s a place where big decisions could have big repercussions that aren’t necessarily the best (or most pleasing) for the aging parent, and therefore, aren’t necessarily made at all. Even under the very best of circumstances (which I believe I have with my 91 year old mother, aging-in-place next door to me), an ACAP’s life can feel like it’s on “hold.” It’s not a bad place to be, just a kind of intermittent place... like hitting the “pause” button on life’s remote.

Husband and I are (mostly) “empty nesters” with the last of five kids doing her senior year at college. Oooooh – all the possibilities! We could:

a.     Downsize” and move into a smaller, manageable condo       

b.     Move to the Cape (an historical “future dream” we’ve had forever)

c.     Buy an RV and travel! (yes, an RV...)

d.     Buy Mom’s house...fix it up... live in half and rent the other

OR –

e.     Do nothing

Option (e) wins Every.Single.Time. Exercising any other option means doom and gloom for Mom... She can only stay where she is, if we stay right where we are. Or at least, this is the story I tell myself. This is the story that keeps me in limbo - comfortable, but not living with my eye on any future prize.

But, what if I have the story all wrong? What if the weight (wait?) of Mom’s world is not actually on my shoulders? I know she loves having me next door, and totally appreciates everything Husband and I do for her, but does she really neeeeed me to be in that exact house? Right next to her? Every day?

With option (a), I could still come by every day and do what I do for her now. And, although options (b) and (c) mean I wouldn’t be stopping by daily, I could arrange “services” like Meals on Wheels, VNA, or Home Health Aides to keep Mom up and running. And, of course, option (d) won’t happen unless Mom decides to go into assisted living, which is not likely, given her 91.5 years.

At the end of the day, it turns out that option (e) is the best choice for now. Yes, Mom would do just fine without me and Husband next door, but she’d miss us... and we’d miss her. “Daily visits” can’t take the place of “just-dropping-bys.” Lucky for me, I do believe that things happen for a reason... as they’re “supposed to”... a belief that everything will work out in the end, and that it will all be worth waiting for.    

*Adult Children of Aging Parents

Emily GaffneyComment