The ageing process is something that provokes many emotional responses. In some ways the positive aspects should outweigh the negative. Maturity and wisdom are attributes that are almost always associated with the experience that can come with age. (Note the italic).
But the other side is that age can be cruel. In my case, I have seen both my parents struggle with their general health and I have observed a slowing down in their activities. To their absolute credit they still go about doing as much as they can but the worry and the obvious dependencies are increasingly evident. May Allah continue to keep them strong in faith, body and mind. Ameen.
A year and a half ago, at about this point my parents were midway through a 'sabbatical' year that they decided would be best spent away from Yorkshire soaking in the heat of Pakistan. My reasons thus for being in Pakistan were simple - my mother had not been well and even if only for four hours, I flew to Karachi to see her.
Culturally, my upbringing has me left me hard-wired in such a way so that living in a joint family situation with my parents is a role that I easily slip in to. Simply put, I need to be there for my folks and this has influenced a lot of the decisions throughout my adult life so there have been periods when I have put my own plans to one side and opted to live under the same roof.
Whilst I wrestle with those moments when duties, ambition and responsibilities pull me in different directions, one of the worst things about watching everyone get older is seeing how the circle of people that my parents had built around themselves, slowly dying away. It is those gaps left behind that I find hard to address. Death stares us in the face and for most of us age will bring its inevitable challenges. Dealing with these whilst trying to fulfil our own individual living dreams is something that I don't think I have had much preparation for. It is not death, but the thought that age can leave others feeling dependent and alone, that troubles me the most.