On Saturday at my church’s “Loving your Aging Parent” seminar, I was approached by an older woman who had attended the one-day event by herself. I had not met her before, but I could sense that she had something important to share with me.
Finally she said, “My grown kids wouldn’t come to this seminar, but I came anyway.” I could see the hurt on her face.
I reassured her that we were thrilled she had come, with or without her adult children. Silently I wondered if her children lived in another community or if they had other commitments that prohibited them from attending. Then as if she could read my mind, the older woman added, “They live only a mile away, but they just didn’t think that it was all that important for them to come, even though I asked.”
I recognized her familiar story. Many adult children are resistant to hearing about the challenges of aging. Older parents often tell me that their children change the subject when they try to talk about their future and end-of-life issues.
Just minutes after hugging the older woman, I chatted with two middle-aged women who had also come to the seminar. I was surprised to learn that their parents had died a few years before. They thanked me for hosting the event, then said,
“We found out the hard way about what happens when you refuse to talk with your parents about aging. We came because we want to gather information so we will be better prepared for our own aging journey.”
A short time later, my heart was tendered to see the middle-aged women talking with the older woman who had come alone to the event. Somehow I just felt better knowing that God was at work in their midst.