Monday, July 31, 2006

The Bookends of Life

My memory of Cape End Manor is shiny-faced little old ladies lined up in wheelchairs, waiting to die. I admit I only drove Bea there once or twice to visit Aunt Estelle. We went on a hot day. I remember a strong desire to leave, approaching nausea.

Last week Oprah did a show about the importance of raising the minimum wage. Two of the professions she cited as meritorious were those of employees in nursing homes and in day care, important jobs whose contributions to society are not at all recognized.

Juliette’s mother Nathalie has decided to quit her job in the tourism industry and care for her baby. I think this is wonderful, as a former toddler teacher and Juliette’s grandmother. Society tells us to farm out the day-to-day tending of our young to minimum-wage workers who sometimes do not even speak English correctly. You have to have courage to choose the less traveled path. Bravo, Nathalie!

The reality is that no day care center can replace the home environment.

The same is true about nursing homes. I believe no one can give a person better care than a loving family member. Home care is not an option for everyone. Bea is lucky we were able to accommodate to her needs.

Slowly I am becoming militant about this choice as friends share their own experiences about loved ones who spent time in nursing homes …

Infancy and old age are the bookends of life. These two periods deserve more respect, not less.

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