For many of us, this week marks our preparation for point-blank exams and long nights and days in Hodges Library -- the place "where dreams are made." As with every other holiday or break, we despair and lament when they come to an end, for obvious reasons. No longer can we sleep endlessly in our own beds, savor the taste of homemade cooking, or spend time playing video games in the company of childhood friends. Each person spends time on breaks differently, but these are the most common activities. Among these, however, spending time with family should be a top priority. I say this in response to a topic we all know about but avoid discussing openly: the elderly.

I bring up this topic because of a story that I was told by my parents' close friends. They relayed to me a sad story about a mother who was placed in a nursing home by her daughter. Although the daughter lived very close by and could have her mother live with her family, she still stuck by her decision to move her mother to a nursing home. When my parents' close friends visited her mother at the nursing home, she told them that she was very lonely and depressed – her daughter rarely visited or called her. She wept when they came, however, overjoyed that she had people to finally talk and spend time with, despite how short it was. She even walked them to the entrance when they left, even though she was very old and has much difficulty in moving anywhere. Hearing this story made me think about my own parents, and the problems they face as they get older. Every day their eyesight gets a little dimmer, their bones and muscles get weaker and their minds gradually become more muddled. To treat your parents in such a bad manner enrages me.

There's no doubt that many of us say we love our families, especially our parents. They are the ones who brought us into this world; they took care of us when we were defenseless, weak and fragile. Even now, they still continue to support and help us, even after we have left for college. However, over time, we may begin to slowly drift away from them. We all remember those rebellious years as teenagers, where we fought with our parents and attempted to establish our independence – this usually begins the disconnection we have with them.

In college, being away from the house for months at a time also serves to further distance us from them, both spatially and figuratively. It's a major event for our parents, who are so used to having the raucous noises of their sons and daughters in the house. Instead, they find themselves lonely, reminiscing on a past when their kids were still young and their health was much better. We also reminisce on the past when we were younger and enjoyed carefree and happy times with our parents, but we must accept the fact that those days have passed and can never be returned to us. We must treasure the amount of time, love and effort our parents used to make us successful, respectful young adults, as well as future parents. It seems only just that we repay our parents with the same love and effort that they gave to us by taking care of them when they, too, become weak and fragile in their later years.

None of us wants to imagine a future where our parents, the foundations of our lives, are no longer there to hug and comfort us when we are sad, or help us up when we fall down and make a mistake. Until that day, though, love and honor your parents as much as you can now, because you will never know when such a treasure will suddenly disappear; you can't have too much of their undying dedication and gratifying love.

— Jan Urbano is a junior in biological sciences. He can be reached at jurbano@utk.edu.