I am reminded time and time again that living a healthy life isn’t just about what you eat (and eating gluten-free), but also it’s about your whole life. While food plays an important part in being your best self, the truth is that if your career, relationships or other aspects of your “primary” life aren’t in order, it doesn’t matter how good you eat, you will always be unwell.
So today I want to talk about something that makes me sad in the “primary” food category of my life. It’s my brother’s relationship with my parents. For some petty reason, my brother and his wife are full of rage and anger against me and my parents. My brother can’t see the forest through the trees. He is holding a grudge, waiting for an apology for something so ridiculous that it isn’t worth even talking about here.
At first I thought the sad part was how my brother and his wife refused to let my parents see their baby, even though my parents have asked time and time again to see him. Unfortunately, they are using their baby as a pawn. While that hurts my parents very much, I realize what bothers me even more than that is the fact that my brother is missing out on the great years my parents have left.
My parents are vibrant, energetic and happy. They have a lot of love to give their children and grandchildren. But time passes whether we like it or not. My parents are both in their sixties. They are aging and I know, some day, they will lose some of their vibrancy, and even some of their energy and mental focus. My brother is missing out on enjoying these golden years our parents have to offer.
As parents now ourselves, my brother and I have an opportunity to appreciate the way our parents raised us and see them in a different light. We can appreciate the tough decisions they made when we were young. We can appreciate the discipline they gave us with a new understanding. We can appreciate family trips and what our parents had to sacrifice to make those trips happen. We can appreciate our dad taking a second job to make ends meet. And we can appreciate how our mom worked full time and still raised great kids, a juggle indeed!
Today, I watch my parents light up when they see their grandkids. I get to take vacations with them, including an upcoming trip this summer. I got to lean on my parents when times were tough for me, moving my entire family into my parents house for 14 months during a tough time in my life. I also can appreciate the fact that while I’m grown and have a family of my own, I still have a mom and dad within arm’s reach when the going gets tough. No one has my back like my mom and dad!
Perhaps I’m even more reminded of the passage of time when it comes to spending quality time with my parents, as today is my husband’s grandparent’s 72nd anniversary. In a few hours, they will be at my house, and we will be toasting their amazing 72 years together. My husband’s grandparents are in their nineties. They don’t get around so easily anymore, and they are riddled with ailments that prevent them from being active, both physically and mentally. His grandmother is advancing in dementia, and the time we have with her and his grandfather is so precious that I wish I could bottle it up. It almost feels like we’re on borrowed time.
Then I go back to my brother. He’s missing out on these amazing years our parents still have to give to him and his child. Since November, when my brother and his wife began their contempt toward me and my parents, he missed his mom’s birthday, his brother-in-law’s birthday, his nephew’s birthday, and his dad’s birthday. He will soon to miss his sister’s birthday too. On my brother’s birthday, I thought of him, but I dare not reach out to someone filled with such hatred for me. The special time my brother missed can’t be given back. That time is gone forever. My brother missed the opportunity to be with his parents, appreciate the sacrifices they made to give him the life he has, and most of all, he can never get those precious missed opportunities back with his parents.
My brother has chosen a new life…. unfortunately he doesn’t realize that he didn’t have to choose. It isn’t an either this or that situation. He can have his new life with his wife and her kids and their baby, AND he can still have relationship with his parents. He doesn’t have to withhold his baby from knowing his own parents while they are still young and vibrant, and he doesn’t have to miss out on having parents and being a son and finding that newfound respect for his parents now that he’s a dad himself.
I have resigned myself to perhaps seeing my brother at a funeral one day – perhaps he has resigned himself to that too and perhaps he even wants that, I don’t know. At that time in his life he’ll be filled with so much pain and regret. I already feel sorry for him.
As for me, I choose to enjoy my parents and LOVE and ACCEPT them for who they are. I relish in the adoring relationship they have with my kids, and the wonderful relationship they have with my husband. Do I fight and disagree with my parents? YES! They never stop being parents, and I will never stop being their daughter. Despite disagreements and fights, I still can appreciate and accept my parents for who they are, and I feel lucky to have such healthy, loving and vibrant parents. Many of my friends have lost one or both of their parents. How blessed and lucky am I to have both of my parents in my life!!
Today, on the 72nd anniversary of my husband’s grandparents, I say a prayer that my brother will soon awaken. He knows he has the power to make things right, even if it’s not easy to do. He, too, can enjoy the wonderful years our parents still have to give, but only if he can move forward, not backward, in his life.