Thursday, June 6, 2013

Listen Up Kids…Get That Spare Room Ready!

 Tuesday, June 4, 2013
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." 



  1. Caring for an ailing parent is a wonderful gift.

    1. Liz, that is the way I felt also. I am sorry for those who are not able to do that.

  2. Even though I read my posts a dozen times before I publish, I always seem to find that one thing I missed. In this post I noticed that we were having our desert. It must have been sand pie.

  3. I have had occasion to think a lot about those possible closing years. My mother is 90 and is fiercely independent. She is a bundle of contradictions and does't realize the extent of her disabilities (or won't admit it out loud). I know her preference is to live independently but, if she can't (due to fall or illness) she wants to live with one of her children. When she fell last March, we had a trial run to see how that would go as she went to stay with my sister. From my mom's point of view, that was fine but , from my sister's point of view, it was a disaster. My mom required so much attention and just did 't realize it. My sister's husband is a cancer survivor with health issues of his own and Laura also works - she was so frazzled with the elder care. I watched b/c I , too, have thought we could offer our home to my mom. Thing is, what price would I pay?

  4. It is a difficult decision. It certainly changes the lives and lifestyles of those involved. There is for sure an adjustment period.
    When I had my mom with me she wanted me to be with her constantly. And it was exhausting. I think the primary caregivers must have frequent times of respite.

    1. And it is complicated by having to work full time - in profession that requires a ton of caregiving. I only have so much I can give before I break. I know that.