Stories of caring for elderly parents at the end of their lives while trying to maintain a life of your own.

Miracles Happen

 

As I walked the hospice doctor to the front door, a question burned inside. Dad was entering the final phase of his life, and he’d recently announced he planned to walk again. Since he hadn’t moved his legs in over seven years, I suffered over the impossibility of it.

“Doctor, I worry about my father,” I began. “He’s so overly optimistic all the time. I feel he lives in a constant state of denial.”

Studying me carefully, the kind man smiled. “No, you obviously don’t understand. […]

My World of Imagination

On a recent trip to the Stanford mall, I found myself in a terrible traffic jam. No, not the frustrating kind on today’s freeways where we grit our teeth to hold back building road rage, but unnerving just the same. I was hungry and on a mission to get some Pinkberry frozen yogurt before perusing the stores when I found myself stuck behind a crowd of people moving at a snail’s pace.

“What is going on?” I grumbled, wondering if there was a demonstration of […]

The Good Mother

With her frail, pencil-thin body lying on the living room couch, I held my mother’s eighty-five-year-old hand as she asked the same question, again, “Honey, was I a good mother?”

Bending over the shriveled frame that once held the sophistication of Coco Channel and the unconditional love of the Blessed Mother, I kissed her cheek feeling impatient. Then, looking into her pleading eyes, I reassured, “I don’t know why you keep asking this. You’re the best mother a girl could have.”

When I was a child, […]

You’ll Be Just Fine

Staring at the senseless symbols cluttering my already cloudy understanding, I lowered my face onto the hardbound book and did what any highly hormonal, PMS-ing 16-year-old would do: I wailed hysterically.
“When in the hell will I ever use this stuff?” I blubbered, chucking the algebra book across the room.
Hearing his daughter fall apart down the hall, my dad came to the rescue with his math genius know-how.
“Honey, would you like some help?” he asked, tapping lightly on the door before entering my room.
With Maybelline […]

Dance with my father

Standing at the window ready to perform in my white tutu and pink satin sash, I peered into the gray stillness of the day’s fading light, tapping my ballet slipper impatiently. Siegfried, the handsome prince in our version of “Swan Lake, ” was now an hour late.
“Where is he?” I mumbled anxiously, nearing the tipping point for an explosive outburst. Waiting to dance was never good for my five-year-old persona. But just as I was about to burst into tears, his shiny silver Oldsmobile […]

Statute of Limitations

“I can’t believe he’d do this to me,” I cried hysterically. “After all, we meant to each other.” Curling into a ball, torrential tears melted my mascara as my entire world came crashing to an obliterated end.

Annoyed at yet another gusher, Mary, my sixteen-year-old BFF, had had enough. “Get over it!” she barked. “You only dated him a week.” Little did I know, when it came to broken hearts, there was a Statute of Limitations for my sorrow.

Throughout my life, I’ve been told countless […]