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Bedtime Ritual

I had planned to take care of my dad at the end of his life.

In 2009, Dad retired at seventy-five because of Parkinson’s disease. Over the next couple of years, he lived in his own home. My younger brother Mark, who lived nearby, faced the first difficult milestones brought on by Dad’s declining health. Mark was the one to tell Dad that he could no longer drive. And after Dad moved out, Mark took

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Doing Time

Doing Time

COVID-19 Confinement, Day Four: My partner, James, sleeps. He coughs. He breathes. He smiled this morning when I brought in tea. He nodded when I asked if he wanted the curtains open so that he could look at the sea, then returned to sleep.
We’re quarantined in James’s new beach house on a skinny peninsula that’s only three blocks wide, bay-to-sea, off of New Jersey. I am a stranger here. When a cardiologist covering for

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The Memory Unit


Ann Anderson Evans ~

I arrive in the memory unit at 1:30 in the afternoon. Jean, my mother’s sister, is fast asleep in her hospital bed in Room 1410. For the past ten years, it has fallen to me to be her frequent visitor and care monitor. I do this willingly because without her generosity and compassion, my life would have been far less meaningful and enjoyable. She never married, but my brothers

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My Love Affair With Jude


Larry Bauer ~

In August 2016, our daughter Rachel and her husband Alberto traveled up from Memphis with their two children, Noel and Jude, to visit my wife and myself in Dayton, Ohio.

One afternoon during their stay, I was sitting in my favorite reading chair beside our kitchen area. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw seven-year-old Noel playing. Beside her, lying tummy-down on the floor, was three-year-old Jude. He was in a

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What I Did for Love


Amy McVay Abbott ~

My husband, who’s had type 2 diabetes for twenty years, had been struggling for a long while to lower his hemoglobin A1C–a number that measures how well he’s managing his blood sugar over time. When he and I finally investigated the issue, it turned out that someone close to him was thwarting his efforts.

This person is an addict. Her drug of choice is sugar–often candy no self-respecting

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Hunting

Scott Newport ~

“Seriously?” began Amy’s text, which popped up on my iPhone one blustery November morning.

“How do you know?” she went on. “Why don’t I feel him with me?”

I had no idea how to answer.

Amy and I had met on Facebook a few months earlier, introduced by a mutual friend. Amy had recently lost her teenage son, AJ, to heart disease. “She needs to talk with someone

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The Caregiver’s Mantra

Patricia Williams ~

If one more person tells me to be sure to take care of myself, I’m going to bury my face in a pillow and scream.

“Go for a walk, take a vacation,” they advise. I know they’re trying to help, but really? Giving me one more thing to do? Oh well, they’re just doing the best they can.

I moved my folks across the country, from Florida to Washington

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Mom at Home

Arlen Gargagliano ~

Aisha is lurking in the kitchen just outside my home-office door. I hear her rattling dishes and speaking to herself in Twi, a language of her native Ghana. I know that she wants my attention, but I’ve told her that I need time to work. I try to focus on grading my college students’ papers, but I’m distracted.

Aisha is one of my mother’s aides. My mother requires care twenty-four/seven,

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Weary and Wishful

 
I was living just two blocks away from my parents, but I spent more time at their condo than I did at my apartment. I shopped for them and cooked, cleaned, and did laundry for them. I took them to appointments. I tried to help them lead lives of quality. Every night I went home feeling tired–after all, I was in my sixties–but also feeling glad that I could support them after all the

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Standing Up by Speaking Up

 
My parents immigrated to the U.S. from Korea when I was two, in 1972. We were lucky we left when we did, or my father, a pro-democracy professor at Korea University during Park Chung-Hee’s regime, might have been jailed. We were also lucky my mother was a pharmacist, as the U.S. was accepting pharmacists and nurses then. We moved to Seattle and made our home there. 
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An Act of Love

For sixty-seven years, my dad was my best friend. We enjoyed walking and talking, taking long drives while licking ice cream cones, traveling, and just sitting in companionable silence. 

We were best friends, but we always respected each other’s physical privacy. All of this changed when I became Dad’s caregiver. 

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Paprika

The insistent chirp on the phone was a reminder from Fran. “Don’t forget to stop at the compounding pharmacy.” For $58 cash these specialists turned a pill into a cream. GERD made Fran intolerant of most oral medicines.

Tired from the long drive, I thought back on my years of marriage. Back pain was the first problem, I think. Then GERD, then migraines, dizziness, TMJ, panic attacks, fibromyalgia. They were all tough, serious problems.

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