Our Classical Conversations community had a scheduled break week, so that gave us an entire week off of our regular homeschool schedule. With the break, we'd basically have two weeks to do one week's worth of our school work, so I took some of the extra time to fly out and visit my widowed, elderly mom for a few days.
My husband, sister, and I are supporting my mom in various ways so she can live in peace in a clean, safe, nice one-bedroom condo, have what she needs, and enjoy her retirement in ways she desires like trips to the Senior Center everyday. During my visit, I got to see my sister everyday, too, since she works full-time and lives there in town nearby. She helps Mom with all the regular stuff like groceries and doctor's appointments. When I come to town, I like to take care of those really physical tasks mom needs done like cleaning, or moving her Tupperwares filled with holiday decorations into and out of storage, or dumping all the collected recycling and the cat liter, etc. I also scheduled the HVAC maintenance, had Mom's broken garbage disposal replaced, also did some necessary shopping and errands while I was there.
In addition to the labor, I also took some walks outside while listening to my favorite podcasts, just relishing the mild weather where I had no need of a really heavy coat. We also got Mom hooked on Downton Abbey, alternately laughed or yelled about her cats' antics, and ate a lot of good food, some of which Mom made, some I made, and a lot we ordered from local places.
I hope I was an encouragement to my sister, most of all, who, like I said, handles much of Mom's everyday needs, which is a constant job. But this is adulthood. This is what adult children do for their elderly parents. Frankly, this is piety. I know this because of all that the Word of God says about the matter, but interestingly, I also know this because of my intense study of The Aeneid.
Aeneas Flees Burning Troy by Barocci
Since my father died and my Mom's well-being, safety, and health has fallen to us, her adult children, I often think of Aeneas carrying his father and dragging his kid from the flames of Troy. There are several paintings that show this scene. I'm also rereading the epics with my daughter and my Challenge 4 class this year, so the scenes are really fresh in my imagination. That image of Aeneas comes to mind when I feel the physical or emotional burden of helping my Mom as she ages, can't work, stops earning, but still has constant needs, while at the same time, I'm also trying to raise my own kids and provide for their constant needs, too. Aeneas put his own desires and fulfillment second to what was right for the previous generation- his father, and he put his desires second to what was best for the next generation- his child. He spanned the generations with his strength.
I am thankful for that image of Aeneas. It inspires me. It helps me know just what to do with this time of my life, and it also quietly testifies these realities of adulthood aren't at all new.