Healing the Family's Oldest Rifts

Healing the Family's Oldest Rifts

Adult Children and Their Parents

By Marian Sandmaier

July/August 1998

ONLY A FEW YEARS AGO, the e-mail that flew between my far-flung friends and me centered on work, good books and the harrowing business of raising preteen kids. Now my friend Gail in Columbus, Ohio, posts this message: "Mom's tests turned up pretty severe anemia, not surprising since she puts off grocery shopping as long as possible. I have been talking with her about moving here with us which, of course, is not realistic." Two weeks later, a message appears from Michael in Boston, who reports that his 75-year-old mother recently suffered a heart attack and has been calling him daily with anxieties about her condition. Michael knows he should be supportive, but he doesn't really feel that way; he keeps thinking about all the times he was sick as a kid even hospitalized once "and Mother was out on the damn golf course." A week after that, Gail checks in again to say that when her family arrived at her mother's home for Passover seder, her mother answered the door in her bathrobe, the dinner unmade. "It made me realize how I've always leaned on my mom, looked to her for that 'backstop' kind of stuff," writes Gail. "To see that image fading is so scary." 0 With all due respect to Thomas Wolfe, we do go home again. Somewhere in the middle of our lives, when we imagine we have finally achieved the proper balance of closeness and autonomy vis-a-vis our parents, or have accepted that we never will, many of us find ourselves at our parents' doorsteps

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Topic: Families

Tags: caregiving | parents

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