Amidst the agony and pain of observing my parents increasingly debilitating aging process, we also have experienced a sprinkling of moments that remind us of better days when all their faculties were present and they were high functioning adults who volunteered and thrived within their family, friends, and social circles.
I remember my dad, Frank Burton Boling, as a very handsome young man with pretty white teeth, a great smile, and wonderfully funny sense of humor. Dad turns 89 on December 7, 2017. He’s now partially bald, his hair is fully white where it once was thick, dark and wavy; his brilliant blue eyes aren’t as lustrous as they were when he was younger. Macular degeneration has caused him to lose the sight in one of them; Over the past year his teeth have been rapidly rotting and falling out. He demanded, even against his doctor’s better judgment, that his remaining teeth be pulled and replaced with dentures. This was back in August. The dentures when he wears them look beautiful, but he has lost twenty-plus pounds because of difficulty adapting to drinking, eating, chewing, and even taking his meds. Dad’s years as a printing pressman and the loud noises from the machines have also taken a toll on his hearing–he’s now fully deaf in his right ear; and, his former leg neuropathy has become fully peripheral leaving his arms, hands, and legs so very weak that his mobility is minimal.
Mom, Norma Florence Ford Boling, turned 90 in August. She weighs less than 100 pounds, wears oxygen 24/7 and requires help with daily activities. Mom has only moments in time when she appears fully alert, and consistently repeats questions about what day is it, where are my dogs, do I have anything to do today….
We’re in my parents’ primary care doctor’s exam room–Mom, dad, and me for a routine visit. It just so happens that this physician is extremely well read on almost any topic you can think of and he regularly shares his preeminent knowledge with his patients, often in the form of 5+ minute tangents, if you will. So, let’s call him “Dr. P.” Here’s the scene: Dr. P. is talking with Dad and me about Dad’s muscle spasms he’s been having in his back–and as Dr. P. often does, he goes off on one of his tangents and he has been talking for quite some time. Mom, although sitting quietly and waiting ‘patiently’ (pun intended) raises her hand high and boldly shaking it to get our attention (reminding me of Horshack from the 1970’s TV show, Welcome Back, Kotter). She says with utmost importance “I have a statement to make!” We all chuckle, and Dr. P. says, “Yes?” Mom then proceeds to state: “Your hair and my daughter’s match each other’s–they’re exactly the same color (white)! We all laugh.
Next, Dr. P. says “Well, I can assure you that mine is natural.” And Dr. P. continues; “But yours may be colorized!” Mom strokes her hair and says, “Oooh No–this has always been my hair color (red)! Finally, dad, with his ever famous sense of humor and quick wit, adds his two cents: “And, we refreshed it for her just last week at her hairdressers for only $84!” And we all laughed, ending our visit on a happy note and making my day!
But please remember, you younger people, YOLO, Carpe Diem! (You only live once–seize the day!)