My friend Annie says her old Irish mother always said, “You will worry and try to care for your children from cradle to grave.” She meant THEIR lifetimes. Not yours.
And my old Jewish aunt said basically the same thing about maternal concerns, lasting “from the moment they open their eyes until you close yours.”
But where is it written that frail, elderly seniors should take on responsibility for senior children who unexpectedly face even more serious illness than they do? As we live longer and longer, it’s happening more and more.
Annie, now 88, has been living with a transplanted liver for 13 years. Hurrah for Annie! She watches her diet, exercises, religiously takes her medication to prevent organ rejection–and we all have been blessed with these joyful years since her liver cancer diagnosis and cure.
But there’s always a fly in the ointment, isn’t there? No matter how cheerful and grateful Annie is, she breaks down now and then in despair over her son, Tom, a 64-year-old Army veteran, with diabetes, heart disease and the myriad of ailments that accompany both.
Tom’s still a year away from Medicare, and because he worked and saved his money, he has a small savings account that prevents him from qualifying for Medicaid. Fortunately, his military service qualifies him for care from the VA and it has literally saved his life, since he can’t afford insurance, is too young for social security too, can’t work and lives on a small disability allowance.
That leaves “Mom” to drive Tom 50 miles to and from the VA Hospital for appointments, treatments and emergencies–of which there are many. She has arranged for cleaning help to come to his government owned low rent apartment a few days a week. But that leaves at least four other days for Annie to go over and do laundry, make sure Tom is bathed, clean his bathroom and kitchen. He is incapable of keeping the place–or himself– up between maid visits. He recently began to need a wheelchair.
What will happen to Tom when Annie can no longer do this job she shouldn’t be doing in the first place?
“From Cradle to Grave.” “From the moment they open their eyes until you chose yours.”
This is out of order.