Family Matters


Family Matters

A New Turn in the Road: Life at 94

May/June 2017


Back in my western Pennsylvania hometown, I’m walking through the crowded showroom of a furniture store with my mother. Soon my older brother will join us, and together we’ll carefully wend our way through room after room in search of a bed, a dresser, a couch, and other odds and ends. My mother walks gingerly through the cluttered rooms as I follow closely behind, hoping she doesn’t lose her balance and fall into one of the dozen or more cushy recliners, all in a row. She stops here and there to rest, but there’s determination in her eyes. At age 94, she’s made a decision we’d never have thought possible two years earlier.

Back then, she was in and out of the local hospital so often that they could’ve installed a revolving door just for her. I was traveling back and forth from my home four hours away to provide whatever help I could to both my brother and mother, who, at the time, lived together. Usually, upon my arrival, she’d greet me with a warm, welcoming embrace. But on one such trip, I opened the front door to find her sitting listlessly in her wing chair, unable to get up. Her graying hair was disheveled, and she was still wearing her beige, cotton nightgown and nylon robe. She was weak (eating made her gag), having regular TIAs (transient ischemic accidents, or ministrokes), and suffering from congestive heart failure. I crossed the room, a fading grin on my face, and hugged her. Her arms were frail, and her back was delicate to the touch.

When she…

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Topic: Aging | Families

Tags: Family Matters


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