As much as she loved her 83-year-old father, 57-year-old Ginny did not love being his primary caregiver during his slow decline from Parkinson’s disease. She found it emotionally draining to try to soothe his frustration whenever he could not control his movements. Brushing his teeth, cutting his meat, and steadying him when he walked were a physical strain for her.
What Ginny found hardest during these caregiving years, though, was the deep disappointment she felt. The people she had counted on to be present and supportive instead stayed away. Even her father, who she knew loved her, did not always treat her well.
Ginny had expected him to be appreciative for all she was doing for him, but he was often gruff and sometimes snapped at her. She had expected her younger sisters to share the caregiving, but they continued to make lame excuses. She had expected her father’s doctors to provide more guidance, especially as the number of his medications tripled, but they took days to respond to her questions. Even her husband disappointed her. While he helped with specific tasks if asked, Gina thought a truly devoted spouse should step up without prompting.
That bracelet and the days surrounding his giving it to me were the one bright beam of joy in an otherwise very dark time. My mother’s longterm...