"For the nursing of the old is like the nursing of children." - Antipho the orator [c. 430BC]
"The old man then, as seems, will be twice a child." - Plato [c. 400BC]
I first heard this thought while catching up with an old friend. As I explained that I was caring for my Alzheimer's mother, he shared this quote, "Once a man, twice a child." That was about 3 years ago. It was true then, but so much truer now. Just as you watch your child's progress with pride and anticipation, I watch my mom's digression with pain and despair. What was once a pleasurable and exciting transition in my kids' development, has turned to dismay and the fear of what comes next with Mom.
We cut up her food in small pieces and make sure that it won't burn her mouth. We keep food on hand that she especially enjoys, some healthy and some not, just so that she eats something. We trick, cajole, beg and sometimes threaten just to get her to bathe. She goes to bed and gets up with the sun. She rarely sleeps through the night. She fights her medicines, some I'm able to crush and put in applesauce. She cries if she isn't the center of attention. She has no concept of actions and consequences. She no longer understands that those around her have needs. She can no longer dress herself. She has temper tantrums and sees people no one else can see. She fears the dark but screams at the light. The smallest boo-boo may as well be a massive wound. She is not happy unless she can see me, even if it means coming into the bathroom with me. Somehow, I accepted that one better from my toddlers... lol.
I could continue with the list, but I think that you get the idea. When I searched the origin of the quote from my friend, I was surprised at just how long man has been saying variations of the same thought. So, what we are experiencing is not new. I had no plans to become my parents' parent. Yet, here I am. And I am sure that people will be doing the same thing long after my children have sung me my last lullaby and cut up my last meal. And, just for the record, chocolate is always a good standby meal for me.