Independent Thoughts

There are so many connotations to independence. I live in a “free” country. I live in the West. Independence is a given. My parents instilled the family tradition by stowing their five kids in a car and moving from the midwest to Oregon when I was barely two years old.

Maintaining independence has been a standard of living.

Born into a family of girls I was raised to believe myself equal to physical and mental tasks. My parents may have bemoaned the lack of boys but it was never stated or implied.

Move the furniture? Milk the goats? Hoe the garden? Get on it, girls!

As a teenager I sought independence. Making my own choices seemed a really big deal before I understood that most decisions are formed by necessities, values, beliefs, relationships, etc.

But I moved seamlessly into a life of interdependence – looking to others to take care of some of my needs – fulfilling needs for others. That’s the way it is done among family and friends and even in work and service.

So, independence came to represent a day to see a parade, have a picnic in the park, watch some fireworks…and when my children were young – maybe even take them to a rodeo.

Life began to encroach a bit on my nonchalant attitudes as our parents aged. Through their later years I helped them as they moved toward dependence. It was a slow but steady process. They made fewer decisions without input. Then they were no longer driving. At first I went shopping with them and later delivered the groceries for their simple meals. Finally, of course, all of their day-to-day living required some degree of assistance. Still, they were old. I didn’t see myself in them.

Now the years are slipping away, leaving a view of the future that may erode the independence that I take for granted and value greatly.

These are sobering thoughts on Independence Day.





  1. Wow… I’m kind of going through this with my mother. She’s still fairly independent but her memory isn’t what it used to be and I have to call her twice a day just to remind her to take her pills. Since it’s just me and I don’t live in town I see a day in the next year or so when I’m going to have to remove some of her independence… that day will truly be sad.


    • Mitch, it is a hard one no matter what. Giving up driving is one of the hardest (and one of the most necessary). We had it roll different ways in our families. In one instance we had to confront and threaten to call the DMV and insurance due to the driver’s blindness and other issues. Another gave up driving because he was worried about his own reflexes. In neither case was it an easy. I hope I can make good decisions for myself and others when the time comes. (And I hope that I KNOW when the time comes.


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