For Your Entertainment (FYE)
Sandra Tsing Loh in “Atlantic’s” article “The Bitch Is Back” is telling it like it REALLY is, with humor and tenderness.
Something to ponder and smile about. This is real life…..not politically correct (PC) BS propaganda……:+)
And this IS REALITY for most Seniors! ;+)
“Meanwhile, my Shanghai-born father is 90 years old, has Parkinson’s, and is in a wheelchair … But that doesn’t mean, with his eerily Jack LaLanne–like resting pulse of 38, he isn’t frighteningly willful and able. Every day, my dad wheels himself down to the bus, shouting at his Malibu neighbors and at passing Mexican day laborers to help him; three hours later (via a trip that involves several bus transfers and all the shouting for help that comes with), he arrives at the UCLA campus, where he crashes chemistry and neurobiology lectures, wheeling himself to the front row, asking loud questions, disrupting the class, then going to the bathroom, getting stuck in the stall, and ordering Ph.D. students to help him. The bewildered science departments have been calling us, as well as the UCLA campus police, asking us to remove him or at least assign him a caregiver. We have to reply that we do have a full-time caregiver, but my father is impatient to get out in the mornings, won’t wait, and indeed, just as often, enjoys the sport of evading capture. I myself have chauffeured my father around, but eventually found myself unwilling, when the men’s room was five feet away, to continue to (manually) help him urinate on the street.
In light of my father’s situation, I have to question some of the clear-seeming lines Northrup draws. As she puts it:
Learn the difference between care and overcare. True care of others, from a place of unconditional love, enhances our health … That’s one reason why volunteering and community service feel good and are associated with improved health. Overcare and burnout result from not including ourselves on the list of people who require care … The way to tell the difference between the two is to be aware of how caring for another makes you feel. You must also be 100 percent honest about what you’re getting out of excessive care giving.
Pretty easy for you to say! The problem is, “overcare” is the only thing that ensures functioning lives for the many people who depend on the average woman. Sure, I could give it up—but the police and neighbors call every single day of the week, everysingle day. Who’s going to do the caring if I don’t overcare?
How often do I feel, midlife, as though I am in a strange Island of Doctor Moreau–like science experiment? My preteen daughters are flashing more and more midriff as they cavort to the (PG or R? If I could only make out the LYRICS!) gangsta rap of Radio Disney. My ridiculously old father is a giant baby who wheels his own crib into traffic, pees into a Starbucks cup, and still wields, intact, his own power of attorney. As I grow ever more sullen about it all, I feel I should be living alone in a perimenopausal cave.
So, who will supply all the caregiving when a whole sandwich generation of 50-ish women checks out? Maybe it will be men: related and hired men. I think of a phalanx of us standing recently in my father’s dining room in Malibu, trying to figure out a schedule for his care—or at the very least, for his capture. (From their homes in Northern California, my brother and sister provide all the financial and emotional support to all the caregivers, which is considerable.) In the room at that moment were my Chinese stepmother (74), myself (49), Filipino Nurse No. 1 (female, 60), Filipino Nurse No. 2 (female, 59), and Filipino Nurse No. 3 (male, 41). Who of us were going to take care of my dad? Since all of the women in the room knew all too well the difference between care and overcare, essentially everyone has now quit except for the 41-year-old male, who alone has the strength to heft my dad’s wheelchair in traffic, needs the money to support his own family of six, and is paid accordingly (which is to say well, far better than many young college graduates I know). I think also, thank heaven, of my girls’ 50-something father, he who holds up the other end of the 50/50 custody balance beam. He is unfailingly calm and patient, buys them fashionable new jeans and tennies, braids their hair, punches new holes in their pink belts, takes them camping, cooks them baked beans, and butters their corn on the cob. By a natural chronology that doesn’t imprison him in this Island of Doctor Moreau–like time line—given that he would not have dreamed of wanting to do all this as a touring musician of 25—my ex, I think, became a father at just the right stage, which is to say older. At his age, my girls have such a wonderfully nurturing father, he might as well be a mother. “