Young black man in city park face portrait serious

When a fire broke out in the home John’s parents shared, his father managed to escape the fire while his mom, his dad’s caregiver, died in the fire.

For some reason, my father, who is 83, couldn’t get his chair to move. He was trying to drive it off the down ramp. It just completely stopped working. So he pulled himself out of the chair — wearing underwear and a T-shirt — and dragged himself down to the steps to the end of the house as the fire burned.

The toughest thing is that for a period of time afterward, my dad lost control of all his functions. He couldn’t do anything. It was almost like being a baby. He couldn’t clean himself. He couldn’t get up. He couldn’t roll over in bed — couldn’t sit up. He had limited mobility prior to this, and my mom — even though she was in her 80s — was his help and support system.

Mom had been active — but at some point, about a year and a half before the fire, she had tripped at church and had broken her hip, which meant that my sister Ivy, who lived nearby with my other sister Ruby, had to move in with them.

Long before the fire, all of us — our parents had five kids — took control of their care as a united front. My brother and I live in Atlanta, and Ivy and Ruby live in Virginia, which is about an hour from my parents’ home in North Carolina. My other sister lives in Connecticut.

And we all had set up a fund that, Ruby, the oldest who had been named after Mom, oversaw; those funds covered all of their expenses, from food to utilities, and we managed that.

But mom was super independent — we used to call her “the bionic woman,” and once she’d gotten back on her feet, after the hip break, she enjoyed her freedom and she enjoyed taking care of Dad.

Read more on Ozy.

This is an external article from our library

Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection.

Have a great story about care work? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles

The Cruelest Marriage Penalty

The Cruelest Marriage Penalty

There’s a lot of talk about different kinds of marriage penalties in the tax code (when being legally married puts you at a disadvantage relative to...

‘I Want My Fucking Pearls Back!’

‘I Want My Fucking Pearls Back!’

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...

Popular categories

After Caregiving
Finding Meaning
Finding Support

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts


Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.