When Roles Reverse

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.

Mother Theresa

“Done with your cereal?”

“Yup.”

“Let’s get you in the shower so you can get your day clothes on, OK?”

“Yup”

Off they went, Matt and his Dad, to start the daily routine.

I stood leaning against the kitchen counter, sipping hot coffee, munching on a bagel as I listened to the conversation continue.

Matt had graciously invited me to stay the night before so I didn’t have to drive two hours in the dark with unpredictable winter weather. He’s used to visitors, having an efficient plan for my impromptu stay and that of another longer-term guest. Toiletries, jammies, fresh towels, tour of the necessities and milk for morning.

I suppose taking care of an aging parent while working full time demands organization.

“I need you to turn this way for me so we can rinse.”

“OK”

I wondered how many were in Matt’s shoes. How many have ever bathed a parent. How many could do what he does, day in and day out.

Medications. Meals. Body fluids. 100% responsibility.

I wondered how he could be so matter of fact and good-natured. Patient. Kind. Caring.

It reminded me of the basic definition of love – to care about the needs of others even if not reciprocated. Isn’t that what our parents did for us?

And for some, the cycle of life includes roles reversing.

Seeing that kind of love in action was the perfect Christmas vision. Showing up in someone’s life the way they need you to be there. Especially when that level of care comes close to the point of sacrifice and you do it anyway.

I felt happy for Matt, as strange as that may sound. Not because of the situation he’s in, but because watching him care for his dad and others means he’s a giver. And givers ultimately receive – they reap what they sow.

Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.

Michael J. Fox
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