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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
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
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,
A voice at the back of my mind said, This is his illness–you can’t take it personally. But even so, I felt hurt by his crying.
I walked through my mother’s madness
in a coat of hungry colors.
Her eyes did not take me in. I was a child.
To win her, I hung by my knees from low branches
of the family tree, voicing nursery rhymes
from the hallowed text of her delusions.
When they took her away,
I was older, careful. I hid my heart
The patient, age forty-nine, complained of abdominal pain. She was taking both slow- and fast-acting oxycodone to manage the pain, and she also took antidepressants and a sleeping aid. She’d come to the hospital several times in the past year, always with the same complaint. This time, not feeling well enough to drive, she’d come by taxi. The veins in her arms were small, threadlike and collapsed, like those of a ninety-year-old
“You do not need an MRI,” I told my father emphatically as he stood in my living room, explaining to me that his beloved doctor had ordered this for his low back pain. He was hoping for a quick fix before meeting his brother in Spain. “You need physical therapy.”
I dislike playing doctor to my family, not trusting myself to dissociate emotion from evidence, but this was just too much. Sure, his back