I’m going to be honest with you, my friends, I’ve been flailing around trying to begin my post this week. It’s been a tumultuous week for my family. For me, and my sisters, and my mum… for all of us… in different ways. Everyone is well. No one died. No one has contracted a fatal illness. But relationships have been strained. And I will say that never before have Carolyn and Connie and I needed our sister support network like we have this week.

Anyway. That’s all I want to say about that. Mostly because it’s a story we all know. Or can guess. And it’s not entirely my story to tell so I won’t spell out the events.

Sibling mug shots.

That’s my sisters and my brother, above, back in the fifties. I love my brother’s neckerchief. And that scowl. Except for a cheeky grin in his grade one school photo, he never, ever smiled for pictures. I also love my sisters’ matching sailor outfits with the crinolines. I’m smiling as I look at that photo because, despite the matching outfits, my sisters are two very different kettles of fish.

Family relationships are complex, aren’t they? There are so many variables that make everyone’s view of the same events different. My sisters and I grew up in the same house. But, as I recently read about sibling relationships, birth order and changing family circumstances and environment, mean we didn’t grow up in quite the same family.

For one thing, I benefited hugely from being young enough to still be at home when Mum married my stepfather. I guess you know how much I benefited from Mum’s remarriage because I often whitter on about my stepfather here on the blog. A couple of years ago, when Mum was still reading my blog, she said that I had “turned him into quite the character.” But as I told her at the time, everything I wrote about happened. And was the complete truth. My truth. But perhaps not hers.

I know that marrying someone who was kind and patient, but maybe not the love of her life, and tackling a big, old farmhouse in severe need of redecoration, along with all the other work that living on the farm entailed, meant that she had a very different view of moving to the farm than I did. Me, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I was the real-life embodiment of Anne of Green Gables, with Matthew Cuthbert sitting beside me at the dinner table each night. Ha.

And now there are four. Easter 1959

So, as you can see, I have two sisters. I’ve written before on the blog about my sisters; you can read that post here if you’re interested. And aside from the fact that I benefited from growing up on the farm, I am just as different from them, as they are from each other.

I do, however, share some things with each of them that they don’t share with each other. My sister Connie and I have always loved books and reading. While a conversation between my sister Carolyn and me does not get very far before we’re talking about clothes, or hair. And we all three have a different view of our childhoods, and slightly differing views of our mum. You know, sometimes I wish I could go back and relive our shared experiences, but as them and not me. Just so that I could have a deeper insight into how it is to be them. But I can’t do that. So I have to try to put myself in their shoes as best I can.

Three sisters, July 1989.

Over the years our sisterly relationships have waxed and waned. When I moved back home to New Brunswick in 1984, I was much closer to my sister Connie. I spent a lot of time with Connie and her husband and kids. They lived a two hour drive from the farm, and I was a frequent weekend visitor. I cherish the memories of those weekends, making homemade pasta and babysitting while Connie and her husband Pat went to Mass. And later after supper, playing Trivial Pursuit, and listening to Pat’s opera tapes. And of course growing closer to their kids.

For the past twenty years or so I’ve been closer to Carolyn. She lived an hour away from Manotick, so we frequently shopped together, planned our wardrobes, and stressed about our hair. We talked about other things too, her son to whom I am quite close, and about her work and mine. Not necessarily complaining about work, although there was some of that, but exploring our views of our work and the idea of leadership and what we gained from taking on leadership roles.

Three Sisters Again. Christmas 2009 (I think)

But as it does so many things, time changed all that. People move and relationships shift and morph into something different.

Connie and her husband moved away to Alberta, and then years later back east from Alberta to Ontario. She retired and so did I. And we began to talk way more than we had in years. Especially after the pandemic began. And that has been wonderful, I must say.

Carolyn’s life changed too when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During the pandemic we spoke most days on the phone. Especially after she retired and began the long road of caring for her husband full-time. Then Carolyn’s husband passed away. And last fall she elected to move in with Mum to care for her.

Let’s just take a moment, shall we, to ponder the impact that has had on both her and Mum’s lives. The sacrifice that has meant for Carolyn. And how darned lucky Mum has been that Carolyn was able, and willing, to take that step.

I know both Connie and I are supremely grateful to her. Neither of us could do what our sister has done. For one thing Connie’s own health has been precarious, plus her husband is still working. And me… well… I could NOT do what my sister Carolyn does for Mum. She is well qualified to be Mum’s carer. She studied nursing in university before switching to pharmacy, so she has the expertise. And let’s just say that the thought of dealing with our mother’s “peri-care,” does not fill her with dread as it does me and Connie. Orifices are not us. Especially not me. At least Connie has had experience changing diapers. Unlike me. Ha.

And again. Home for our brother’s funeral. 2017

You know, when one sibling steps up to take on a greater role in an aging parent’s care, family relationships can become complex in a whole new way. Can even become a bit precarious. Parent to adult child relationships change. Big time. And even sibling relationships alter as roles shift. Sometimes our differing perspectives brought about by the fact that we none of us had the exact same experiences growing up mean less and less. Yes, we’re very different people. But a situation frequently fraught with emotional events teaches us that we just need to band together. And try to have each other’s back.

This past week I’ve been reading another Marian Keyes novel. Anybody Out There the fourth in the Irish Walsh family series. Gad I love Keyes’ novels, and those Walsh sisters. Like me and my sisters, they are all very different women. They have their rows, but in the end they always have each other’s back.

And after this past week I think my sisters and I can safely say that we definitely have each other’s backs. I think our sister support network is alive and well. And functioning as it should.

And I think that we’re all three very grateful for that.

P.S. That book link is an affiliate link. If you make a purchase after clicking my link, I will earn a commission which helps to pay for the blog.

P.P.S. I’m sending this post off into the ether, crossing my fingers, and hoping you receive it in your email inbox on Sunday as scheduled. And, if you haven’t already, you may want to go back and read last week’s post that you didn’t receive. Sigh. Blogging is learning, my friends. Learning tech stuff… and learning patience. Ha.

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56 thoughts on “Sister Support Network”

  1. Oh, I can relate to this one! I have more than twice as many sisters as you (I know!) and the dynamics have shifted a few times over the decades, never more than during the years that first Dad, and then Mom, needed extra care. We were lucky so many of us could share the load, but as the eldest I felt guilty sometimes that I wasn’t doing more — but I lived a few hours away and couldn’t easily leave work during term. One sister carried most of the load during my Dad’s prolonged illness; another one moved her family in with Mom after Dad died; and yet another one helped settle Mom into a condo of her own a decade later, looked after everything legal and most things medical and everyone chipped in to drive to appointments and to stay overnight and provide round-the-clock check-ins. What was so important (and I know this is hard for many to manage) was that no sibling gave care resentfully out of obligation or guilt — and the ones who gave the most care did so generously as a gift they claimed to benefit from and still treasure years after our parents’ deaths. And the rest of us are so grateful they did this for us. (By contrast, we no longer speak to half my husband’s family — not our choice — because of what transpired in the weeks around his father’s death).
    Sorry for going on a bit, my friend, but your thoughtful post cast a retrospective light for me. . . I wish you and your sisters all the best during this rich and real and difficult period, and I wish you may continue to offer each other this strong and loving support. xoxo

    1. With all of us “girls” living away from New Brunswick, and my brother in failing health, it’s been hard. I have done the lionshare of the helping since my step-father died. And for the most part I have loved the time I’ve spent alone with my mum. But I don’t think anyone who hasn’t done it realizes how time consuming it can be organizing a care plan for an independent-minded but increasingly less mobile parent who adamantly wants to stay in their own home: dealing with all the paperwork, social workers, government departments, doctors, OC therapists, physios… you name it. Just trying to convince care workers that even if Mum says she isn’t hungry, they should make her a nourishing supper, and negotiating with the care company about when and who will be there for her. And then fending off kindly meant relatives and friends who glibly declare that “your mother should be in full-time care.” That always stung, I must say. During the pandemic when I couldn’t get down to NB I spent at least a part of every day on the phone, to Mum, and then most days to someone in the system. I kept my phone on me at all times, even in my nightgown pocket. Ha. I was soooo relieved when my capable sister elected to move in with Mum. Now I am second in command. Yah!

  2. This post certainly hits home. I have two sisters and after mom’s death only speak to one. My other sister and brother are for all intent and purposes deceased to me. Buried along side our parents due to strained perceptions and hostile feeling over the death of our mother. It is a difficult time for everyone in your situation and I hope your bond remains intact. I know there is a void in my life without my brother and sister but honestly at this age I choose not to have that negativity and anger in my life. I really choose peace. God bless you all and best wishes.

  3. Ah, it’s a tricky dynamic when a parent needs assistance and siblings are in different situations and locations. I was lucky to be the one nearby when our mother was in her final years of coping with both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

    Knowing when, where, and how to ask for help was critical as was realizing that I could assume responsibility for her safety and comfort, but her happiness wasn’t within my control despite my best intentions. I was lucky because I could spend time with my mom on a daily basis; on good days we laughed at stories she dug from her memories while on bad days I just kept the interaction brief knowing that her moods could swing back as quickly as her fist. It was much harder for my siblings who could travel for hours just to be met with anger and withdrawal. Seeing the anguish of their farewells just as recognition was dawning was heartbreaking for all of us.

    A couple of thoughts:
    As the sibling “on the ground” knowing that the others gave me their full and complete support was an enormous gift. My siblings and I talked regularly, but they both deferred to me when it came to making the decisions about our mom’s care. As my younger sister pointed out, I had to live with the consequences while they could always go back to their “normal” lives. If my mother was wavering or unsure, I always suggested she call my siblings because I completely trusted their responses.

    I also knew my mom needed emotional support from all of us as she coped with her diminishing abilities. As I held power of attorney over her finances, my siblings and I discussed using funds from her estate to help with travel expenses so they could visit her as often as they wished without destroying family budgets. It was a good decision as my mom loved having the constant visits—and, selfishly, made me feel like we all shared in the responsibility for her happiness. Having others provide some of emotional support my mom craved went a long way towards making my assuming the physical and logistical aspects of her care much less of a task.

    1. Marily, in my family, I’m the one “on the ground” supporting a mother with dementia, who is in an assisted living facility in the same town where I live. I can’t tell you how helpful your insights are to me, particularly your observation that you came to realize your mother’s happiness was not within your control. It is gut-wrenching to me when my mother is unhappy, usually for reasons that are based in paranoia and which I can do nothing to alleviate. Comments like yours help me to realize that others have walked this same path and that, while there are many ways in which I can be supportive, I cannot ultimately bear the responsibility for my mom’s state of mind. Thank you for what you shared.

    2. It is really a kindness of you to share the wisdom of your experience, which will be helpful to many. I’m not yet in that stage with my mom, but with two siblings I understand well what you mean about the responsibility for the parent’s happiness being shared. Excellent. I just lived through an experience with my partner caregiving for his parents, but with a sibling living abroad who bore no responsibility but criticized the care he gave unjustifiably and cruelly. It was awful and they are no longer speaking, sadly.

    3. Ah, Marily, thanks for that. The happiness thing has been the part of the whole care situation that wakes me up at night. Is Mum lonely? What can I send, buy, arrange to make her last years more content? How many times a year can I feasibly fly down there? Sadly, Mum has alienated some of the younger members of our family and they do not visit as often as they used to. That’s been hard for her to swallow.

  4. I have friends who are in similar situations and the results have been extremely varied, from the ok to the plainly tragic. Jealousy, resentment, bitterness at one end of the scale and loving cooperation on the other. As one who has been an absent child – inasmuch as I lived a couple of hundred miles away from my parents and had done for almost 30 years – I was incredibly grateful to my brother for being close to hand. As one who has battled with an absent child who steadfastly refused to come home from abroad to sort out his parents, despite the fact he had no other siblings and was hoping I might just step in…or the wife of one who is doing sterling work because the others live abroad…I could go on. Our modern lives do not sit easily with being able to minister to the needs of elderly parents because I, for one, was certainly brought up in the expectation that I would leave home and live elsewhere, should the opportunity arise. Many years down the line, it can be difficult to balance parents/work/family/distance and come out the other end, sane. I will say, however, that I feel absolutely no guilt and that helps a lot. There is no way I could be everything to everyone, all the time. We just do our best. And then it passes.

  5. Our problems were exacerbated by us not having children of our own . When my mother-in-law was struggling at the end of her life her two daughters opted out by saying ‘ we have our families to consider ‘ , despite them all being adults with children of their own . They seemed to forget their mum was family too , even at Christmas. It made it so much harder caring for her as she was desperately unhappy . The situation with my own parents was very different . My sisters & I pulled together for all our sakes . Mum really appreciated our togetherness . We had love & laughter till the end . I’m really glad you are getting the support you need .

  6. It’s great that you and your sisters support each other and that one sister is able to live with your mum. Caring for ageing parents can be very difficult and we aren’t all able to do all the things that need doing, but having 3 loving and supportive siblings spreads the emotional and physical loads. I wish you, your sisters and your mum the very best.

  7. Such a thoughtful post,Sue (and comments,too). As an only child, I love to read about siblings dynamics and think about it,I think I could relate to the stories from my (more observant) experience….and yes,my parents were (and my mother is,luckily ,still) mine and mine only , forever and ever
    Nothing is difficult to me (including,well,everything), but it is complicated to travel or even go to the seaside-my mother doesn’t want to travel or be there. It seems like nothing compared to all the problems here, but ……
    I’m glad that everything is well between you and your sisters now and that you have each other’s back.
    Am I a little bit jealous (in a good way though,and just a little bit) of all of you who have siblings ? Always was!
    Dottoressa

    1. We are so lucky that my sister can be there with Mum. I could NOT do what she does. Mum needs a lot of care now and she still feels she is not ready to consider a full-time care facility.

  8. Oh gosh this is a post that I felt in the gut. First, I am so glad to hear that you and your sisters have each others’ backs. That’s fantastic.

    For my part, I related particularly to what you wrote about siblings growing up in different families. I am the eldest and my younger brothers are both my father’s children, but they grew up in a very different family than I did. My father became ill when I was a child and my parents separated and divorced. By the time my had father died, I was just leaving for university, but my youngest brother was still a child. My mother had recently remarried. While I was away at university, the (fortunately happy) family moved and my mother changed all of their names to my stepfather’s. She really wanted a fresh start. She asked me if I also wanted to change my name, but of course I was my father’s daughter and did not want to. As stupid as it sounds, perhaps, one of the most painful experiences of my life was that change to my brothers’ names. I became an island and the only remaining person in my family connected to my father in that way. Both of my brothers moved to the west coast as adults, and so decades of not seeing each other very often, combined with the “new” nuclear family they formed with my mom and my step-father means that I no longer feel close to my brothers. This is a deep wound after the caregiving role I played for them as a child, as the eldest in trying circumstances. I envy you so much having that relationship with your sisters and wonder if my life would have evolved differently had I had sisters! Adding an odd wrinkle to it is that my moom moved during the pandemic to live near to them and their families, but I don’t see either of them as being caregivers. My mom always says she has money to hire people to care for her and I shouldn’t worry, but of course that is not what caregiving is about and so I wonder whether I will be required to give up my life (which leans towards Europe, not the west coast) when the time comes. Life is tricky…for all of us.

    I recently watched my very capable and medically-trained partner care (at home!) for a father with Alzheimer’s (seven years) and a mother (also for seven years), who declined significantly through the pandemic. Beyond the terrifying gauntlet he ran to complete her care during the pandemic, what was most awful was the absurd and cruel criticism from a sibling who lived in another country and did not lift a finger. In fact, he still hasn’t spoken to his sister a year after his mother’s death and I fear he never will. Marily’s comment above is so very important.

    Courage!

    1. I came back because I was thinking of the comment I left yesterday and hoping it didn’t come across as too grim or self-pitying! I think I was simply inspired by what you wrote about trying to put yourself in your siblings’ shoes, to understand their perspective of the family and what they experienced (which seems to have not been as much of your step-father or farm life, if I read correctly). I hope all siblings learn to do this. It helps. As the eldest rather than the youngest sibling in a family that experienced significant change, I experienced the more immature version of my mother who made her mistakes; the much younger siblings experienced a more stable family life and. my mother in a happier marriage. On the other hand, as the eldest, I had a unique relationship with my mother that was on more equal terms, as I was at her side when many difficult conversations and decisions were made. That has its special gains, too. This is all to say that life is complicated and it sounds as though you and your sisters are managing a tough situation well. I wish you the very best! (And peace to everyone going through the tough experience of caregiving or seeing a parent decline.)

      1. Thanks so much, S. It’s always amazing to me that there are so many people who have complex families. I grew up thinking I was the only one who had a complicated family…half-siblings, step-siblings… etc etc. My friends all had two parents, still together, and “regular” sisters and brothers. I wouldn’t trade my family, though. My experiences certainly made me more understanding of students in my classes who had complicated home lives.

        1. Such an interesting point, Sue. I, too, feel that some of the difficult experiences of my childhood, related to having a “different” family have made me a better caretaker of others – more empathetic, more intuitive and sensitive to diversity (of experience and being).

    2. It’s interesting you should tell that story, Steph. My experience with that is the other way round. My mother’s first husband was killed when my brother and sisters were age 4, 2, and 5 months old. When she married my father a few years later he legally adopted then and changed their names. So even though we are half-siblings by blood we’ve always had the same last name. Otherwise, as the younger child born of the second marriage, I think I might have felt like the odd one out.

      1. Oh your poor mum and siblings. 🙁 I can see how you might feel a little bit different. But it sounds as though you have a lovely family.

  9. Thank you for sharing this very personal and heartfelt post. It touched my heart as I am currently going through the loss of a beloved much older sister (20 years older) and the estrangement from our family of another sister. As the youngest of five girls, I love all of my sisters. But as you point out so beautifully, each of us has our own experience of growing up in the family. It’s hard to understand the bitterness and anger of our estranged sister when my memories and perceptions are so very different. I hope and pray that, in time, our sister support system will include all four of the remaining sisters and not just three of us. Thank you, again, for this post.

  10. I’m left with only brothers after my only sister passed away at the young age of 33. I’m noticing it more as my mom is now 90 and being the only daughter is a singular spot to be in. It’s so wonderful you have sisters and you all work together.

    1. I had three brothers but lost the oldest in 2017. My parents were in their 90’s and my mothers dementia was getting worse. As her POA I had to make the decision to tell my younger brothers that our parents needed to go to a retirement home. I live four hundred miles away but spent loads of time searching out the right place for them. My younger brothers live quite close to our parents and both were just marvellous during our mother’s subsequent hospitalization and eventual passing. My Dad is still going at 97 and I do not know how he could have managed without the boys, who shop for him, take him on outings and host him for meals. My younger brother’s partner ( he lost his wife in 2014) also deserves so much credit for supporting our parents and being an extra pair of ‘boots on the ground’. So brothers, cousins, adult grandchildren all pitch in to help with my Dad’s care…I am very blessed to have them in my life.
      Your brothers might surprise you!

      1. You could be right. 🙂 I’m actually with her this week helping her prepare to move back to our little hometown where one of them lives. He’s got a daughter who is there as well, and that granddaughter seems willing to help her a lot. I’m hoping that works out, as she has been widowed three times (!) and isn’t used to being alone. Most of us live over 400 miles from her, so it’s quite a drive for me to see her, and this move will put her another 2 hours away. But she is still able to live alone (with some help) and as she says, “I have a stone in the cemetery there with my name on it.” So I’m just trying to be as supportive as I can and roll with what she wants right now.

    2. I hope that move works out for your Mum, Laurel. It is wonderful to have my sisters. Especially since my brother, who was kind of my Mum’s rock his whole life, has now gone.

  11. Sorry you’re going through this, Sue, and glad that you and your sisters “have each other’s backs.” It’s important. For something that we are all going to go through one way or another, I’m surprised people don’t talk about their struggles, and insights, and wins around caring for aging parents. We could all use guidance when the time comes.
    I’ve got three younger sisters, and although we don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on things, and we live far apart, we are there for each other when push comes to shove.
    I love all of your photos with your sisters, and your brother looked very fashion model stylish! XO

  12. I responded to Marily’s comment, but also wanted to say to you, Sue, that I’m thinking of you, your sisters, and your mum. I’m the eldest in my family and the only girl … I’ve often wished I had sisters, but can certainly imagine that the stresses of elder care can challenge sister relationships as well.

    On a totally different note, my father was a “Matthew Cuthbert” as well, and I miss him dearly.

  13. Wow! Did this ever hit home! My mom just passed away at 96yo in July. I had the responsibility of taking care of her because I lived in the same town. My brother chose to abdicate all responsibilities for her. Yes, he didn’t live close but he also would not step up to the plate when I asked for help. However, he and his wife would be critical of the care I was providing. Unfortunately he died in January 2021 from Covid. So any opportunity to repair our relationship is now gone…..

  14. Hi Sue, thank you for your open words about your family situation. We are four, three girls, one boy (I‘m the youngest, an „accident“ with a big gap to the others). As a teenager, I felt like I had additional parents with my siblings, who are commenting my education. But now, it is so comforting to still have my sisters and my brother at my side to take care together for my high aged Mum. „Sisters are made in Heaven – brothers are not to be paid with money“ we say in Germany. Sorry for my English.
    Good to hear that you close with your sister gang!
    Take care of you three,
    Susa

  15. I grew up with three brothers and no sisters, and always looked at the sister relationships of various friends with a combination of fascination and envy. As an adult who is not particularly close to my two remaining brothers, the link that my friends share with their sisters probably inspires more envy, and a bit of sadness that I’ll never have that experience. And as an only daughter, I discovered after my dad passed that there was an unspoken rule that I, who lived farther away than any of my brothers, was responsible for making sure my mom wasn’t alone for holidays and the like, and then I really missed having a sister! I’m glad you have yours, and that the sister support network continues to flourish.

    1. Funny how we can assume that daughters should shoulder more of the load when it comes to aging parents, isn’t it? My brother was always looking out for Mum. Which is one of the many reasons that she, and we, miss him so much.

  16. As a new retiree whose mother just moved in with my husband and I, I appreciate your thoughts and the comments of others. Knowing I am not alone on this journey is a blessing.
    I also want to say thanks for the recommendation of “The Thursday Murder Club” series. I enjoyed book 1 immensely and am waiting #2 from the library.

  17. This post certainly touched a raw nerve for several of your readers. The blog seems to be a safe place for many of us to verbalize our situations and fears. I am so glad you have your sisters for mutual support.
    I am an only child and my parents and I moved to a country at the opposite side of the world from family. As they aged and needed more care I did wish I had siblings to help share the load. But we do what we must at the time and we do come out the other side eventually.
    Stay strong but know you have our support as well during this difficult time.

  18. Your comment that even though we all may have been raised in the same home, the family structure may have been quite different. I have four sisters and two brothers. But, I am the oldest of the girls. After my father passed away, I felt like I got to know my mother more as an equal not as a parent. So often I could see and hear the 18 year old that she once was and am eternally grateful for these moments. We made numerous trips to the doctor or emergency room in her last years. My siblings all contributed in their own unique, special way. There were difficult decisions but we tried our best to be united in our choices . Many times, I had to tell myself that I could do this. My parents didn’t raise a sissy. All I can say is, try not to say words that you can’t take back and will regret.

    1. That’s how my brother was with my Mum. He was the oldest, and when she was a single parent he was always her rock. We joked that he helped raise his three younger sisters.

  19. Dear All: When we are in the challenging work of caring and loving for an aging parent, it can feel so lonely. If you do not have family support and even if you do, please remember that the job is not yours solely. Ohers can and should help out, even if it is just an encouraging email now and then, if that is all they can do. Look for support when and where you need it. The best advice I ever received in the process of caring for my parents who passed at 93 and 97 after about 10 years of intensive support was to take one day at a time. I was fortunate in the wonderful support and cooperation I received from my 6 siblings. Everyone was understanding and everyone was supportive. I happened to be the one who lived near Mom and Dad until my sister moved in with Dad after my Mom died. The work was hard and perplexing at times, but it is a poignant time to learn good lessons. It is heart-breaking to hear of family members who are critical “from afar”, but if you are the one with “boots on the ground”, don’t second guess yourself. You are really doing a good job, a wonderful job! The other important thing to consider is that all of us will be in the elder care candidacy one of these days. There are certain things that I don’t want to put on my children including having to cope with a big house that no longer suits me. It is good to think what you want to have happen and what will be practical and helpful especially for your family into your advanced old age. My parents never expected to live as long as they did. Fortunately, they had the resources to cover the extensive round the clock care that was needed. Above all else, if you are in the thick of the eldercare challenge, be kind to yourself. Know that others do indeed understand how lonely and challenging all of this can be. Well, I could keep going, but enough said. Love and prayers going out to all in the caregiver angel category, even if you feel your halo slips a bit now and then.

  20. My heart goes out to you. Despite the fact that my parents died quickly and at a relatively young age, I have been fully aware all these years of how different it could be at this point if they had been with us in the past 30 years. The tradeoffs would have been wonderful — thinking of them getting to know our grands and our spouses — and we miss them both so much, but we did not have them with us when they came to the end of life and all that entails. So though I have no right to compare our situations, I pray for all of you and applaud you for hanging on to the relationship you have with each other.
    One more thing. I also lost a brother, in my opinion too soon. So I hold my remaining siblings, both male, in much higher regard and value the chance I have now to be in contact with them.
    Blessings surround you all, and peace that you are guided and treasured yourselves by a higher power.

  21. My siblings and I are currently in a similar situation and I’m feeling guilty, grateful and lots of things in between.
    It is wonderful that your sister can be with your Mom and take care of her right now. I hope that they have a relatively smooth fall and winter. You are all lucky to have each other.

  22. Am I the only one that feels the way?
    I have lived my life until I’m no longer able to care for myself. When that day come, it is my desire to be placed in a senior care home or, hire someone to care for me in my home.
    I do not want my children to put their life on hold, change their life style to take care of me. Yes, please come and visit me,
    but I feel I would be very selfish to expect
    My adult children to upset their lives unless this is their chose. I’m sixty six years old,
    have a husband, and trying to enjoy these years (pray fully) that I have on this earth.
    Is this selfish? I know that we should serve and care for others, but there is something that I’ve observed in several situation as this. The caregiver (senior) is busy taking care of the patient, but not taking care of themself and, their health fail. What’s your take on this ?

    1. I don’t think you are the only one who feels that way, Ann. In a conversation with friends recently everyone said the same thing. And funnily enough Mum always used to say that she never wanted to live with her kids. But, my Mum has long lived in a rural area with no public transit and she doesn’t drive. So years and years of being at home with my step-father, and really only getting out when he drove or one of us was home for a visit, usually me, and she and I went shopping or visiting, meant that Mum despite being really independent-minded, was not actually independent. Even when my step-father died and she was well able to manage her life, she never went anywhere alone. I do think this has created a fear of being dependent not on friends and family but on strangers. I hope that my sister is able to juggle Mum’s care and still find a way to have a life for herself. She seems determined to do so. And I hope I can help with that… if only in being the business manager. Ha.

      1. Sue, you’ve hit exactly on the conundrum of “independence” when the realities of aging come into play. My mom was fiercely determined to not be dependent on her children as she grew older so she tried to do everything she could to make it easy on us—moving into a senior care facility, setting up her financial affairs, having all the documents in place with her lawyers—but, despite all that, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s had a double punch which left her unable to cope with the reality of her situation. Without going into detail, she needed someone to make sure that decisions were made with her best interests in mind and that plans were carried through in an appropriate, timely way. I shudder to think of what would have happened if I (or one of my siblings) hadn’t been there on a regular basis.

        Aging is horribly unpredictable and, despite what we think will happen, the reality is that we will all likely need to depend on others at some point, like it or not.

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