Sunday, September 9, 2007

Family Caregivers

This photograph was taken in 1986. Mom is on the left and Dad is on the right. In the middle is my granny, my dad's mom. She was 96 at the time. Mom was 73 and Dad was 69 then. So my parents were 10 years older than I am now.

At the time dad and mom were taking care of my mother's mom, my Mamaw. She lived with them for a long time but near the end they had to put her in a nursing home. They both regretted the decision and said they would not do it if they had it to do over.

I remember that time. It was a terrible time for my parents and my mom especially. It took both Mom and Dad to bathe Mamaw and she kept running away. Once she took off all her clothes and dad caught her in the road in front of the house. He had on a red Owens-Corning windbreaker and he took that off and put it around her and talked her into coming back. And then she got a lot worse.

But the first two nursing homes couldn't seem to keep track of Mamaw. She was pretty deceptive because she seemed so frail but somehow she could climb a pretty good fence. She got away from them more than once. She died in the third home. She cared for her husband for a long time when he had his stroke - about 5 years I think.

I was closer to my granny though because she lived across the driveway from us. Seems strange because it is the very same driveway that I live on now. Sometimes I think I should be able to walk outside and see Pop with his pith helmet and his big hoe and Granny with her bonnet and apron come walking in from the garden. I should be ten again and Pop should be playing catch with me.

The foundation of their little home is still there along with the walnut trees they planted. Sometimes I tell people about playing in the corner there with Granny and how she would make these little corrals out of nails and twine and we'd have other nails and things that were horses and cows and stuff.

Granny took care of Pop when he had his stroke back in 1959. She was 69 then and Pop was 80. They had been married nearly 50 years. She took care of him at home, too. She had a hospital bed for him. He had a catheter and I remember seeing it once and I felt so badly for him. He died the next year. I was 12.

My Aunt Larry took care of Granny when she could no longer live alone. Aunt Larry had owned a grocery store in Dallas. When she would come visit us she would bring comic books and coins for my coin collection. We had to be careful with the comic books because she took them back with her. And I had to "buy" the coins I wanted. But I got some really good coins.

Not too long after after this photo she had a little place come up on her leg - really not much more than a little bump. She died 6 months later. My Aunt Oleta and her husband moved in with Aunty Larry and Granny when she was diagnosed to take care of her and Granny. When Aunt Larry died then they took care of Granny.

Granny died about 2 years after that. She was 98 I think. Mamaw died the year this photo was taken though and she was 95.


nancy said...

wow, what a wonderful family of caregivers. it is how the world used to be. no wonder you do the wonderful job you do. thanks for sharing it and the pictures.

Lori1955 said...

Wow, talk about caregiving being in your blood. With those examples in your life it is no wonder you chose to care for your dad.

~Betsy said...

You have big shoes to fill with the generation of caregivers, but I think you have certainly accomplised your goal. It really is lovely to see family taking care of family - it's the way it is supposed to be.

Thanks for sharing, Flinty.