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Becoming a Child Again


Ralph Thomas


  In a recent column, I wrote about my new experience of becoming a caretaker or, perhaps, the better term is caregiver. Now, I am becoming aware that both SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed, my wife) and I are increasingly being cared for  . . . in subtle ways we did not recognize until recently.

  Our first clue came a year ago and should have alerted us that we were being cared for in ways that could easily be determined as being snooped on. I donít put caregiving and snooping in the same category. However, our daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren see no distinction.

  During a road trip last year from Flagstaff, Arizona to the Olympic Peninsula in Washing-ton state, we fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing the Grand Canyon. It was truly a big hole in the ground, but a magnificent one, especially when one is reminded that it took six million years for the Colorado river to dig the hole.

  The route from the Grand Canyon to the California coast took us through Las Vegas, Nevada, not a planned stop on our trip. While passing through glitter city, I received a text message from a granddaughter asking me what I was doing in Las Vegas. I was stunned. How did she know where I was?

  I immediately called, asking for an explanation of how . . . and why   she was spying on us. She said there was an application on my cell phone that allowed family members to track the location of my phone. She explained it was to make certain no harm came to us. I had trouble accepting this explanation. After all, if I hit a tree, I hit a tree, with or without the cell phone. She finally convinced me they tracked my phone because they cared about grandma and grandpa. How could I argue with that logic?

  A few weeks ago, SWMBO and I decided to go to a department store in a nearby town, after which we stopped for lunch. On the way home I began receiving text messages asking what we were doing so far from home. It seems that one of our daughters called our home and, receiving no answer, began calling our other daughters and grandchildren, asking if they knew where grandma and grandpa were. Up until this time, I assumed I had the right to not answer my phone if I didnít want to. Apparently, at age 79, I have lost this right. Now, I am being snooped on and am beginning to lose my rights because I am, in their eyes, too old, incompetent, forgetful and unable to care for myself and their mother and grandmother.

  After a few days of thinking about my perceived loss of freedom, I came to the conclusion they cared about us and wanted to make certain we were safe, conscious and in our right minds. (They have had occasions to think otherwise.)

  I have also come to the conclusion we have reaped what we have sown. We did our best to care for them, and now they are doing the same for us. I must admit their snooping on us is well-intentioned. But I sense a lack of freedom to disappear when I want to, or to not answer the phone when I donít want to.

  Now, their inquiries about our whereabouts are accepted as they are intended . . . they care about us. But I still feel as though I am becoming a child again.


 Ralph Thomas is a Locust Grove resident and the author of Doing Great, but Getting Better and Getting Old Can be Fun.




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