Saying Hello to Goodbyes

I have a friend who is dealing with the slow loss of her mother to dementia. She shows grace and humor as she deals with the gradual change in her mother’s abilities to remember, to function alone for short periods of time. She shows endless patience in answering the same question five times in fifteen minutes.

We Boomers ain’t Babies anymore.

We’re at an age where we’ve lost friends to illness, family to death, and more than a few pairs of reading glasses to the couch cushions.

We’re old enough to carry decades of unsolicited advice at the ready at all times. We Have Lived.

A young couple across the street recently had their first baby. Up to this point they’ve managed quite tidily to get good jobs, to move to a new state, to buy a house, get financing, buy cars. They have Adulted. Yet the birth of their child brought out of town family visits carried on a tide of the aforementioned unsolicited advice.

Why do we do that as we get older?

As parents, we need to learn to say goodbye to the need to control the outcome of our children’s lives, and the children of our children.

As children, we need to learn to say goodbye to whatever we might have hoped would be different with our parents.

BUT–hellos can come with those goodbyes.

My friend has learned to say hello to the childlike sweetness her mother is showing, also hello to the new fears her mother has as her capacity diminishes. She’s welcomed the childlike joy of her mom watching reruns of the Wheel of Fortune that are new every time.

We can say hello to the new generation of parents as they try to do their best just like we did.

We can show the respect and kindness we’ve learned we really appreciate to in turn be respectful and kind to those both older and younger.

Here’s a big one–we can wait till someone asks for our advice.

We can give everyone the space to be who they are, to learn at their own pace, just as we have.

We could use what we’ve learned to, well, live. To be there in whatever ways others need us to be.

As in Writing 101, let’s use what we’ve learned to show rather than tell.

My goal is to stay open to all of tomorrow’s hellos and keep learning from all those around me.

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