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One Afternoon at Teatime

Marilyn Hammick

Arthur stops close to where we sit waiting
for the person you call the activities lady
to serve us drinks and biscuits.
He moves his wheelchair with slippered feet,
so we become another group.
You introduce me, This is my sister,
I nod to Arthur and watch his mouth form words
that seem reluctant to reach me, hang
in the air unsteady, diminished.

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Meditating with My Stepdaughter

It was a Friday afternoon in May, a week before my stepdaughter died. I was holding a solo vigil on the couch next to her bed, while she slept peacefully.

Her hair had started growing back, soft and thick and gray. I loved to rub my hand across her head.

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A 3:00 a.m. Phone Call

 
When the phone rang at 3:00 a.m., as I reached out my hand to answer it I knew the call was bringing bad news. On the other end of the line, I heard my dad’s croaky, Parkinsonian voice stammer,”Rozzie, I’m so cold. Come here and help me; I can’t reach the blanket to cover myself.” It seemed like forever before he was able to squeeze out the additional information that he’d called the front desk

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Homecoming

Ronna L. Edelstein

For years, and especially as he entered his nineties, my father kept begging me not to “dump” him into a nursing home. He had seen too many of his cronies abandoned in this way by family members; his visits with these friends left him feeling depressed and hopeless for days. I assured Dad that I’d never put him in a facility.

It was an easy promise to make. I didn’t

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My Father’s Girl

Maureen Hirthler

I’m walking very slowly with my dad down the produce aisle at the local supermarket, past the colorful waxed apples, Mexican mangoes and Rainier cherries, and imagining my life’s blood trickling onto the floor from an invisible wound.

As I pass by the misting system spraying the bins of green, red, yellow and orange peppers, past the lady reaching for carrots, past the stock guy balancing the heirloom tomatoes into a

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(Not So) Golden Years

Madge Kaplan

When I read news articles about caring for elderly parents at a distance, I sometimes shake my head. There’s a tendency to put the best spin on the experience: as long as you contact the right people, get the right information and treat the ups and downs as just part of life’s challenges, you’ll be fine. You can do this!

I find myself wondering when the author last talked to a caregiver at

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Eleventh Hour

K.D. Hayes

Uncle Walt died this morning. Finally.

 I say “finally” because I believed this day would come four months ago, when he had emergency bypass surgery.

At the time, I didn’t believe Walt would live; he was an ailing, seventy-seven-year-old man with severe pulmonary disease. When his heart started to hurt one Friday, his doctors told him, “With bypass surgery, you might live. Without it, you’ll be dead before the weekend is over.”

Walt’s

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In Sickness and in Health

Larry Zaroff

Four months after having a knee replacement, I stumbled into the bathroom at three AM, not fully awake, hoping to urinate.

Losing my balance, I fell. The result was a compound fracture of my left leg–the one with the prosthetic knee. 

Gazing at my shiny white kneecap, I lost all logic, all control. I simply cried. 

At eighty, I was unprepared for this unexpected anatomy lesson: my twenty-nine years as a surgeon had

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The One She Calls Milk

Amy Haddad

Is for pain but has a longer name
she can’t pronounce. It’s for when he shakes.
She is not sure if the shakes
mean pain since these days
he often cannot say.

Earlier when he could say,
he would mimic the circle faces
on the pain chart the nurses held up to him.
He would try on expressions
until he found one that fit

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An Orphan’s Tale

Peter Ferrarone

At the outset, I confess that I have no experience in the medical field. I’m not a doctor or a nurse; I’m a recent college graduate, a writer and someone who’s interested in the world. And, all last summer, I was a volunteer in Uganda. 

I’d met a Ugandan priest who was visiting the States on a

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What You Were Wearing

Theta Pavis

They handed me your clothes
the winter boots,
the dark, folded jeans in their
impossible size 5.

I put them in my trunk,
then drove around
orbiting your hospital like a
satellite sister.

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Closing up the Cabin

Robin Schoenthaler

I met Burt the Monday before Labor Day. As I walked into the room, he stood up–a sturdy, fifty-three-year-old guy with a direct, sky-blue gaze. Although he was a little etched around the eyes, he mostly looked the picture of health.

Two years before, he’d had a cancer. It was treated and thought to be gone. But

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