We are up early.
Today is going to be an unusual day.
Even though I didn’t personally know Susan and Alfred very well, I do know that they were elderly parents being cared for by their daughters.
For the past 10 years Susan lived with Patty and Ray.
Also during the last several years, Marie and Dave, in the home where Marie spent her childhood, cared for Alfred.
Susan passed away on Thursday May 30. She was 95 years old. Patty is my brother’s companion. They have been together for about 20 years.
I have memories of Susan and my mother on the several holiday occasions that we spent together. They were contemporaries. I remember Susan talking about being a seamstress so many years ago.
We saw Susan for the last time about a month before she died. It was quite apparent that she was suffering from advanced dementia. As we were having our dessert, Susan adamantly reminded us that we should be careful because not everyone is trustworthy. She also serenaded us with a rendition of “Pasta Va Zool”. You had to be there. It was quite charming and very cute.
Alfred is my daughter-in-law Anne’s grandfather and great-grandfather to my grandson Domani.
Alfred passed away on Friday, May 31. He was 91 years old. Although I had few personal interactions with Alfred, through Anne, I learned that he was a WWII soldier, a Normandy Beach survivor and he was an active member of his community. (Anne talks about her grandfather in a touching post that she wrote here.)
At 10:00 this morning, we attended Susan’s funeral. Afterwards, Ross and I went to the funeral home to extend our condolences to Alfred’s family.
While it is true that Susan and Alfred lived a very long life, of course there will be a void left behind by their deaths.
The lives of Marie and Patty, the devoted, loving caregivers for their each of their parents, will be dramatically different now.
I cared for my mother for only a short few months. At the time, it was the most physically and emotionally draining experience of my life. It is on that level that I relate to Marie and Patty.
Whenever I was in the company of Marie and Patty, I observed the special attention that each one gave to their parent. It was apparent that these daughters were caring for childlike adults as the role of parent/child reversed.
When I saw Patty and Marie today, I recognized the effects of their care giving. Signs of sheer exhaustion were obvious as was the sadness in their eyes.
While it is not always possible for one to be the primary caregiver for an elderly or ill family member, I have to say that I feel it is the best care that will be given. In fact, I do believe that those who are cared for at home will have a longer and better quality of life.
After attending both of these tributes today, I can’t help but wonder what my elder years will be like. Who will care for me? Where will I wind up?
All I can say is, “Listen up kids, get that spare room ready."