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Tag: ill parent

Lipstick

 
My mother’s scent, Replique, always entered my bedroom an instant before she did. The message my nose carried to my brain, then on to my heart, was “She’s going out tonight.” 
 
She would first sit on the edge of my mattress. The comfort of her nearness would always be overshadowed by the sadness that I knew would overtake me once she left me alone. But we both pretended it didn’t matter.

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Butterfly Wings

 
Like the wings of a butterfly, Ma’s hands were always in motion. Making beds with perfect hospital corners. Gliding the iron across Dad’s shirts. Breading veal chops and turning dough into chocolate chip cookies. Washing dishes and clothes. Vacuuming and dusting. Ringing up sales at the children’s store where she worked.
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A Date with Mom

I rush into the waiting room, trying to make it on time. Mom is sitting in the chair, patiently reading her romance novel with her ninety-nine cent bifocals. Calm and relaxed, in contrast to my frantic entrance as I juggle my schedule to try and make her appointment.
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A Second Farewell

Julie List

Two years ago, I’d just begun my new post as clinical supervisor at the caregiver-support center at a large medical institution. The center offers emotional and practical support to families of patients who are dealing with serious illnesses and hospitalizations.

In my short time there, I’d already encountered many memorable clients, but somehow I felt a special connection with one woman, Maria. A small, intense woman with piercing dark eyes, she often

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If it isn’t written in the chart, it didn’t happen

Christine Higgins

The doctor covers my mother’s hand

with his own hand. Her hand is

a speckled egg he is keeping warm.

The nursing assistant reaches out

to touch the yellow roses,

and murmurs, “Bonito.”

Several people come in and speak

cheerily to the bedcovers and the curtains,

but not to my mother,

who no longer makes eye contact.

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I Need a New Stethoscope

Jenni Levy

I need a new stethoscope. I have to wrap my fingers around the fissures in the tubing to make this one work.

For me, these days, listening to the patient’s chest is more a ritual than a means of diagnosis. After twenty years as a primary-care internist, I now work full-time in hospice and palliative care. I spend more time listening to stories than to hearts and lungs. Even so, there’s

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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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Busting Grandma Out

S.E. Street

I had been in London on business all of seven hours when my son, Tom, called me at two in the morning from our hometown, Sydney, Australia. 

“Grandma’s had a fall. She’s been taken to the hospital, but she’s all right.”

My mother’s having a fall was nothing unusual; she had always been an unpredictable fainter. My husband and children and I called it her party trick, making light of it to soothe

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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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A Different Kind of Miracle

Anita Fry

Once upon a time, I was a newspaper journalist: I chased down sources and sweated over deadlines. Then, in mid-career, I switched to doing marketing and communications for a regional healthcare system. This consisted of a large hospital and many outpatient clinics, including a community cancer center.

Because I handled communications work for the cancer center, I also had a seat on the Cancer Committee–an oversight group of oncologists, pathologists, nurses and other

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How It Was When You Stopped Knowing Me

Susan Rooke

When I cannot help remembering, I recall
that the end of your memory arrived
in a Texas spring so wet it churned the rivers,
ripped white frame houses from the banks
and sent them rampaging on the currents
like Pamplona bulls turned loose into the streets.
There were bridges on those rising rivers, and
I cannot help remembering

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My Friend the Scholar Comes at Last to Attend His Father

Norbert Hirschhorn

He considered the wasted moult of a once
large, ferocious creature: mouth agape,
muscles twitching with every rattled breath.

Agapé–my friend the scholar marveled
at the homograph, and the thing that feasted
on his father. He laid a futon at the foot

of the high white bed, some books, a laptop,
a thermos. Nearby, an emesis basin,

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