Adult female stands in one river to the left. Her senior parents stand in the river to the left. Between them stands a mountain. In the sky the sun rises on the left and sets on the right. Distance, age, passage of time.

Living Without Regrets

If you knew you were facing the last months or years with a loved one, would you do anything differently?

Would you change the words that spill from your mouth? Would you vow to spend extra time in the same room as the person you love? Or would you keep doing exactly what you’re doing? Are you on the path that’s most authentically yours? Are you living without regrets?

These are questions that I often ask myself in relation to my parents, who are both aging. And my dad has Parkinson’s disease, which makes that aging process look even more startling sometimes.

Perspective through Parkinson's

In many ways, Parkinson’s is a thief. But it also gives me perspective. It makes me realize that I won’t have my dad forever, and I want to make sure that I’m mindful of how I spend time with him, while there’s still time to be spent.

I’m not someone who wants to spend my life in a stupor, waiting for change to take me. I like to confront it head on, daring it to embrace me. I step out onto my front porch, look discomfort in the face, and dare it to fight me.

When it comes to Parkinson’s disease, and its grip on my dad, I want to live with the same consciousness.

Am I present enough?

Am I present enough with him? Are there emotional barriers that we can cross to create a deeper sense of closeness while we’re on this planet together? Do I need to be in Michigan (where he lives) in order to be present with him? These are the questions that sucker punch me in the gut every day.

I always make it home for the important events. I text frequently and I call every once in a while. When something big happens in my life, I’m sure to share it to make sure to keep my parents up-to-date and involved. But is it enough?

Are there more ways I could close the distance between my parents and I, barring an actual relocation? And, if I don’t make any changes, will I regret my decision in the future?

Finding ways to be there

I’m not sure that I have the answers to these questions. And they’re naturally ambiguous, so I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to put my finger on a moment that relieves me of my anxieties. But I think it’s the attempt that’s meaningful.

So often, life feels like a river. We get caught in the current, traveling to a faraway place at a quick pace. It can be difficult to pump the brakes. I think I need to ride the current while calling my dad and sharing my journey with him.

I want to make my way through the pit stops of my life, while finding ways to be there for him as he lives in his own pocket of river. And maybe, sometimes, he’ll even be able to ride the current with me, burying any possible regrets into a deep and distant grave.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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