Our parents are proud but they mustn’t hesitate to burden us

It worries me that my mother doesn’t want to worry me.


This column is a secret, just between us. My mother would kill me for it, but she’s on holiday with me right now so won’t see it. Currently my 81-year-old mom has two black eyes. As she would say: “You should see the other guy!” However, the other guy was the side of the house: she bent down and smacked her head into the wall. Did she tell me? Did she heck! Apparently pride comes after a fall, too. Instead she went to bed, and woke up with a black eye. “Why didn’t you tell me?” I demand, because now…

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This column is a secret, just between us. My mother would kill me for it, but she’s on holiday with me right now so won’t see it.

Currently my 81-year-old mom has two black eyes. As she would say: “You should see the other guy!” However, the other guy was the side of the house: she bent down and smacked her head into the wall.

Did she tell me? Did she heck! Apparently pride comes after a fall, too. Instead she went to bed, and woke up with a black eye.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I demand, because now there is no hiding it. “You could’ve had delayed concussion, I could’ve found you unconscious in your bed and not known what the problem was.”

In reply, she says the thing that annoys me most: “I didn’t want to worry you.”

But it worries me deeply that my mother doesn’t want to worry me.

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So that one black eye turns into two with the bruising spreading until she’s a human racoon, and I lie awake worrying about clots and internal bleeding because we have a plane to catch, and finally there’s a visit to hospital and a CT scan.

Happily, it turns out she’s as hard-headed physically as she is mentally.

“That,” says the doctor, “is the most impressive unimpressive injury I’ve ever seen.”

She clears us to fly. But what else isn’t my mother admitting?

This worries all of us Generation Xers with ageing parents, admirable and proud, and frustrating in their pride. They fight against all help – walking aids, hearing aids, medications, doctors – like they’re fighting the dying of the light, not the saving of the day.

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Consider Himself’s 90-year-old mum: she fell in the garden, hurting herself so badly she passed out. She wasn’t wearing her panic button around her neck. She told us nothing, not until she’d crawled indoors, spent a night in agony, and then finally contacted the doctor. Her wrist was broken.

“I didn’t want to be a burden,” she explained, her words bullets of guilt. She’s not a burden, though. She’s his mom! We worry because we care.

Beloved parents, we just want to make sure you’re as okay as possible, until you’re not. Please?

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