During the summer before I started ninth grade, my father, sister, and I went camping in Montreal and Prince Edward Island. My two oldest sisters no longer lived at home. Although my father and I camped a lot when I was younger, by the time I was fourteen, my mother’s multiple sclerosis (MS) had begun to digress and she often needed assistance, making it more difficult for her to manage on her own. While the three of us sat in the living room eating ice cream and planning our vacation, my mother looked on. She watched us. And listened to us. We never gave a thought to her. To invite her was never an option, or a thought in our minds, since she was unable to rise from a seated position on the ground, as sleeping in a tent would require. As we talked about where we would stay and what we would do, my mother kept quiet, wondering who would be there at home for her if she fell or needed help of any kind. We were a one-car family, so our trip left no opportunity for her even to go to the grocery store while were gone—if even her stamina would allow it.
When we came back from our vacation, she chided us about our thoughtlessness. Her words put us to shame. I don’t know why I never considered her needs, or even her feelings during our planning process. I was a teenager thinking only of myself. I loved my mother, and I never wanted to hurt her. I never spoke to her about it again, but I did start to grow up and think about her needs.
We sometimes accuse others of being emotional when in fact, we are being inconsiderate.
When you look back on your experience with an ill or disabled parent, have you ever acted selfishly? Did you talk with them about it? How did it affect you? How did it affect them?
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