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The journey with elderly parents

Always look up – even in the hospital lobby…

What I love so much about the idea of slices of joy is that it doesn’t presuppose that everything in your life is peachy and it’s an easy practice. It was born out of the necessity to look for the tiniest things: the small moments of kindness, and lightness, and joy…

In amongst the beauty of summer days and hammocks and reading and swimming in the sea and gardening there has been the parallel and interwoven journey of my dad undergoing chemo for colon cancer. The chemo is mild, apparently, post-surgery, and he is responding as well as can be expected…

But it’s still quite a way to start a Monday morning – an oncologist visit and a chemo ward.

In the last few years of my dad’s many health challenges (two hip replacements, a knee replacement, a heart valve replacement and now colon cancer), I have learnt – slowly and painfully – that this is his life, and his decisions. We can be supportive, and bring light and joy and food to him, but it is his life.

Many of you are walking this same journey of elderly parents, I know, and it is very much one without a guidebook… The changing roles, the boundaries, the difficult conversations. Who knew this was coming? Not me.

I read a book called ‘The Reluctant Carer’ late last year that was interesting purely because of the asking of these questions… Very few answers, but the questions were well framed.

And in the absence of answers, what can we do – really – but look for the small moments? The beautiful carved sculpture on the ceiling. The slip of crushed ice in cold chocolate milk as it travels down your throat. Stepping out of the hot summer sun and into the cool of the house.

Thin slices of joy.


Published inInspiring

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