Longing to hear “I love you”

My parents are in their 80’s, in failing health and live in a retirement home. I make it a point to be there twice a week and am constantly running small errands for them in the interim. Their form of saying thank you is “we wouldn’t be alive without you.” What I am longing to hear them say are the words “I love you.” Their words seem to lay a further burden on me. What I long for is what I perceive as affection, caring and recognition for me as their child – their daughter, and not as a caregiver.

At one juncture a few months ago, I said to my mother that I crave to hear those words from her and her reply was that I knew she wasn’t the kind of person to verbally express her affection and that I should know that she loves me. However, when I am tired of running and worn out, it tears me apart not to have the comfort that those three words would give me. I have never left their apartment or hung up the phone without saying “I love you” to my parents.

It’s amazing how something so seemingly small can make such a difference. If nothing else, it has made me more conscience of saying those words to my husband and children. Maybe the value is in the lesson learned. What are your thoughts?

submitted by Toby Donner, author of www.girlfriendswithagingparents.com

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