Purple Loosestrife in my parents' garden - which is maintained beautifully by my green-fingered sister. I took this picture while the walls were being plastered inside the house this week. As I took pictures of this and other fading leaves, I had a strong sense of the renewal happening inside the house while the garden falls asleep to rest, ready for it's own renewal next spring.
Elderly parents can take up a huge amount of time. This is not meant in a negative way, it is simply a fact that needs to be faced if you are someone who cares about people.
Having elderly parents myself means I need to devote time to their sense of well-being. Old age can sometimes bring frustrating disabilities that restrict activities once taken for granted.
That bedroom needing a makeover can seem like an impossible dream when tired arms can no longer hold a paintbrush. Legs that once carried a busy, capable man are now so weak he struggles to get out of his chair. The bottom step of a step-ladder would be like climbing Everest to him.
There is an emotional price to be paid for the privilege of still having both parents in your own later years. Watching two young spirits struggle with the decline of their earthly bodies is painful at times. So I need to be philosophical and accept the circle of life for what it is. Now is not a time for worry, regret, anxiety or fear - for them or for us.
Now is the time to celebrate the sun setting on the young couple who brought my sister and me into this world. We need to make their last years as golden as possible. Every day they have is a gift. They have both survived serious illnesses over the last 20 years and I am sure it was because they were strong for each other.
They still hold hands as they approach their 90s with shaky legs and strong spirits. Only 10 years ago, my father took my mother back to the wooden seat up on the hill where he proposed to her and gave her a ring. They still celebrate their engagement date even now.
Ageing people only look old on the outside. Inside, they are still young. There is no good reason why my parents' house should age with them and be a fading backdrop for the feelings of sadness, or maybe even resignation they sometimes seem to have. The cracked wall in the bedroom that worried my mother so much needed to be made new and smooth again. That old wallpaper needed ripping off so new life could be breathed into the room. I knew it would make them happy and give them hope for all the many days still to come
Life should be celebrated with brightness, colour, warmth and comfort at any age - yes even 87 and 89. Elderly parents need to be viewed as if they were 24 and just married. Am I really too busy to make things happen for them? The things they can no longer do for themselves and therefore seem impossible.
Am I really so busy that they can't ask me for what they need to make their lives feel better? No - my life can wait while I look, listen and act on the needs of two people who deserve my time the most. All it takes is a mind shift to get stuff done.
I can be relieved of my own busy concerns in the blink of an eye because I am in charge of how I prioritise my days. It is that simple. Are Pinterest/facebook/twitter or my work really more important than my elderly parents? Well...uh... no!
The first steps have been taken - the cracked wall is no more. This week, it was expertly fixed and plastered by a master plasterer and will soon be ready for some beautiful bright silky paint my mother has yet to choose.
Meanwhile, as we wait for the plaster to dry, I need to brighten up the ceiling with some white silk paint. That will be fun - up a step ladder with no sense of balance. Perhaps a pole and roller will be more sensible.
Then there is carpet to choose before their new comfy king-size bed arrives. My mother is excited about the make-over. My father is too but he doesn't say so - I just know he is.
We still have lots more to do because my elderly parents do have a future. They are not done with life and life is not done with them. However long or short, it is still a future and they deserve to spend it somewhere that has been made new and pretty.
My father worked hard his whole life long to give us a good home and my mother devoted her life to looking after us in that home. The least I can do is return like for like. If you have elderly parents and are able (physically, emotionally or financially) to drop everything to make them happy - even one day a week - do it. Nothing in the world is more important than life as it is now, today, because it isn't coming back to give you a second chance.
Recently, I read a brilliant inspirational article that you can find by clicking here. It is called 'Just Do the Next Right Thing' and it is such a simple philosophy. It has certainly helped me to slow down and break everything down into a series of small, manageable steps that I know I can take with ease.
I didn't think I had time to cope with everything I need to do - but I was wrong. Time is whatever we make it.