After a few days back home, I'm at my dad's again. He seems to be getting along okay. I was talking to a doctor the other day about chemo and whether at eight-six my dad should enter into five years of it. The doctor asked what his quality of life was like. I answered, "This man is the gold standard for quality of life for an eighty-six year old." He should go for it, the doctor said.
I've been thinking a lot about people who don't have the support system my dad has. There are five of us kids, four spouses, and eight granddaughters. That's quite a few caretakers. Then, since my dad is still so active (he does double rounds of Mobile Meals on occasion!), he has a good network of people who call and bring food in times of illness. Add this to the fact that he is very rarely ill.
On the other hand, there is my friend the schoolteacher who has two parents in a retirement community. When she isn't grocery shopping for them, she's trying to talk them out of driving across town to their favorite specialty grocery store. She has all the doctors' appointments for each of them, and this is after either listening to them talk about what is wrong or trying to pry out of them what is wrong. Many afternoons, after teaching and meetings, she drives over to visit. Now I know from visiting my mother-in-law in her retirement community that an hour visit takes way more than an hour. She goes home and fixes dinner and grades papers. I have a new-found appreciation for how exhausting her life is.
I can't even imagine what life is like for someone who has nobody to take care of them. When I visit my daughter in the big city, I've seen elderly women on the sidewalks with their walkers full of groceries and their life seems impossible to me. I saw old people in the hospital that never had a visitor. One woman haunts me: when I walked by her door she pulled deeper into the comfort of her covers, a look on her face that seemed to say, "Don't make me leave. I'm so safe here."
Today, I'm thankful for our situation. And much more aware of how fortunate it is that there are so many of us to take care of each other.
Here are a couple more photos for this week's photographic theme of Watery: