By the time this column is published, it will be Chanukah. Most people look forward to Chanukah. It is a time of celebration, the Festival of Lights. However, some of us have a different view. It is a reminder of losing a loved one. I can imagine that individuals who’ve lost a parent on any other festival such as Pesach, Shavous, and Sukkos feels the same way.
My father was niftar 11 years ago on the fourth day of Chanukah. While others are getting their menorahs ready and putting up Chanukah decorations, we who have Yahrtzeit during Chanukah are making sure that we do what is necessary before Chanukah since we can’t do it on Chanukah. For example, the custom is to daven for the amud and recite the Haftorah the Shabbos before the Yahrtzeit since it will be a help for the neshamah. I was fortunate this past Shabbos to be able to do both. I had an extra bonus that the gabbai was away this Shabbos, so I was able to have the extra benefit of being gabbai. It is also not customary to go to the cemetery or to say the memorial prayer Kel Maleh Rachamim during Chanukah.
Since it is my father’s Yahrzeit this week, I want to talk about relationship between parents and children. Many people, when they were young children and were upset with their parents for not letting them do something or were embarrassed by something they did, would receive a response, “Wait until you are a parent.” When we became parents, we understood what our parents meant. Then we became part of the sandwich generation. We had to not only deal with our children but deal with our parents. As parents age, they have various issues, including those relating to their health. Responsibilities may also include ensuring that they take their medication, having the necessary procedures, and making the necessary medical appointments.
We children think we have the answers. Sometimes our parents listen to our advice but many times they do not. Some of the reasons for resistance is the fear of losing autonomy or once a child always a child. They may say, “Wait to you get to my age and/or have the same condition. Let’s see how you will handle it.”
It is a hopeless feeling when your fears of what will happen are slowly coming to fruition. You feel like you are on the Titanic and know that the iceberg is ahead but there is nothing you can do.
The courts, under some circumstances, may have a role in the process such as a proceeding for an appointment of a guardian (MHL Article 81). This process can be expensive, and may result in a parent believing that you are against them and there is no guarantee of success. Nevertheless, there are circumstances when it may be the best approach.
It is easy to give advice to others on what they should do. It is much harder to decide what to do when it affects you directly. We are good at telling others what they need to be healthy, such as a proper diet and plenty of exercise. Of course, when it comes to us, we often continue in our unhealthy habits.
Since there are many diseases and other health conditions that are hereditary, it is likely that we may end up being in the same situation as our parents. There are also other health issues that may not be hereditary but are common. Are we going to follow what they did or follow our own advice from years earlier? Most likely our children will give us the same advice as we did.
It is not an easy answer. There may be different justifications for following the same path as our parents: We say that we are different. Or back then we did not know the entire story. At a minimum, we can now have more of an appreciation of what are parents went through or are going through. Years ago, in response to our advice, they said, “Wait until you get to my age.” Back then, we did not take it seriously. Now we should.