Saturday, September 19, 2009

Family ties

According to USA Today, becoming the parent of your parent is an emotionally wrenching process. Family ties, fraught with guilt and fear and uncertainty, tangle us up as we do our best to deal with the endless carousel of doctor appointments and legal matters, bills and paperwork, shopping and transportation for parents who can no longer do for themselves.

A poll showed that 41% of baby boomers with at least one living parent are providing care of some sort, financial or personal, and 8% have had parents move in with them. An estimated 34 million Americans devote an average of 21 unpaid hours a week caring for elderly relatives.

My 92-year old mom is happily settled in a partially-assisted senior apartment, with my sister keeping her supplied with necessities and handling her finances. I swoop up every 6-8 weeks to take her to the doctor and do a marathon of inventory, shopping and minor household chores. It's worked for us so far.

Now Dave's mom has reached the point where she can no longer live alone, at least in our opinion. She, of course, doesn't agree. It's one of those no-win situations. She spent all last winter shuttling between the homes of her three children, spending the majority of the time here with us. We have to find a more permanent solution.

Whatever happens, nobody's going to be happy.

I think Dylan Thomas got it wrong. My plan is to go gentle into that good night. I've already decided that I'll go cheerfully to the old folks' home when my time comes. I pray I'll keep enough of my marbles to know when, so that my daughters will never have to suffer the heartbreak of forcing me there, burning and raving, raging against the dying of the light.

And my vow to myself... no whining.

Starting tomorrow.


  1. Or you could die peacefully in your sleep like my grandfather, not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

    Seriously now, my folks were Canadian, so of course they politely and courteously died before they could become a burden to me in my own dotage. Very thoughtful of them.

    I sure don't envy you, babe.

    And don't stop whining on my account. I have so little to look forward to *snort* that your whines are the highlights of my week. Well...perhaps the second highlight, after my wines.

  2. As much as I know I won't want to live in the old folks home ... seriously hope I die in my sleep suddenly ... I wouldn't want to be a burden to my kids either. I totally agree with you! Great post. :-) -lisa

  3. Thank you for your comments, ladies! It's a really difficult situation, and it's going to take a while to resolve.