Saturday, August 30, 2008

I'm back

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:


5 comments:

Joseph Gallo said...

Nothing is so beautiful as the waters of love. Your dad is fortunate to have you all as you are fortunate enough to have him. Make every day count.

I am a caregiver for an 85-yr old woman, a grand lady of Scotland, as I refer to her. She's very right-leaning and I forgive the lifelong bent that has become ensconced as her political views, no matter how ill-informed they may be. I love her nevertheless.

One day there will be a whole lotta older folk who will need help and assistance and who will be overwhelmingly progressive and hold views decidedly left of center. I wonder what their caregivers will say of them?

Glad he's home and you are too. Give him a big hello from an independent unaffiliated free-thinking poet who touts common sense as his political manifesto. ;-)

mamie said...

I feel as though I've been visited by a celebrity today! Thanks for your good words. I love your poesy or proetry, whatever one would call your writing. In fact, I just today wrote down the following words, which oddly enough echo something in a story I wrote recently about my elderly mother-in-law, who says she sees the same clouds every day.

"The same birds crossed and recrossed our line of sight.
The same clouds passed and passed again." Joseph Gallo

When can we expect a new Mystic Lit post from you?

Carmi said...

You write with such eloquence about aging, aging well and the blessing of family. If only we all had that support system around us.

You've got a truly good soul.gmkjx

mamie said...

Whoa - two celebs in one day! I'm grateful to you, Carmi, for Thematic Photography. I look forward to each week's theme, the chance to look at other photographers' beautiful work (including yours), and the opportunity to think about my photos in light of what others might see in them.

It is a good day.

G Liz said...

Mamie,

One of the reasons I came back home to my family deals with the very nature of your blog. Family caring for family.

There are few things in life (if any) more important...or more rewarding, than caring for those who have cared for us.

Your daddy is a very lucky man.