Two sisters agree to look after their ailing mother, but when she becomes bedridden, the oldest sister says she already has two children and can’t take care of an invalid.
When seventy-year-old Silvia Dance was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, her two daughters got together and decided that it was now too dangerous for her to continue living on her own in that big old house.
So her two daughters, Rita and Grace got together and talked about how they could help their mother. The proposal they put to Silvia was that she would spend three months at a time with each daughter, and her huge beautiful house would be rented to help defray her living expenses. And for a while, it worked…
At first, it was a novelty for Rita’s family, her husband, and her two kids. Silvia had always been a favorite with the grandchildren, and her son-in-law adored her. Grandma was conveniently there as a 24/7 babysitter and mom’s helper.
Silvia had some difficulty with mobility but she was a dynamic, proactive person and she was more than happy to make dinner, bake cookies, and help the kids with their homework. “She’s a blessing!” Rita’s husband, Paul, exclaimed, and she was, but Parkinson’s is a progressive disease.
Our elderly cared for us with love and devotion and deserve the same care in their twilight years.
Silvia spent the next three months with Grace, and by the time she returned to Rita, she was a little slower, a little less agile. Two years later, when she returned to Rita’s, she was having great difficulties moving around with a walking frame.
She wasn’t the fun grandma anymore. Her left hand spasmed into constant tremors, and her speech was becoming affected. Rita was shocked. She hadn’t expected her mother to undergo such a dramatic degeneration!
From being a welcome helping hand, Silvia became an irritant to Rita, especially when she admitted sobbing that she’d started losing control of her bladder. That was the final straw for Rita. After all, her children were out of diapers! She’d thought such unpleasant chores were far behind her.
Rita talked to her husband and the two decided to hire a caregiver for Silvia. The several thousand dollars a month that Silvia’s 5-bedroom Malibu house had been bringing in was suddenly needed to pay the caregiver…
Rita was upset. That money had been handy for some very agreeable extras the family had grown used to…And now they had to spend it on a caregiver! It just wasn’t fair. So Rita called Grace and asked for a sit-down to discuss their mother’s worsening condition.
“Look,” Rita said. “I want to be upfront about this: Keeping mom at my house is becoming impossible, OK? Katie is thirteen and going into that awkward phase, and Hal is now eight.
“I honestly think it’s not fair to them to have to live with a woman who no longer controls her bodily functions. Paul and I always tried to give the children an upbeat upbringing, but it’s impossible if mom is there drooling and peeing in her nappy!”
Grace was stunned. “I don’t understand, Rita! Six months ago you were so happy…”
“Six months ago, she was functional, OK?” Rita snapped. “Honestly, I never thought things would get this bad this quickly. The doctors say she’s not reacting to the medication, it’s just not working. You’re not married, you’re free as a bird, and having mom there full time won’t affect you, especially if the caregiver continues on with you,” Rita said persuasively.
“So you’d have nothing to do with caring for mom?” asked Grace astounded.
“Oh, of course, I’d come to visit every weekend! ” said Rita. “And if you needed to get away once in a while, I can take her for a few days — so long as I have an adequate warning.”
“I see,” Grace said quietly. “Well, you can rest easy, Rita, I’ll take care of mom. You don’t have to worry.”
Rita was delighted. She went home and announced the change to her mother. “Mom, you’ll be moving to Grace’s early, and you’ll be staying there permanently. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the kids are growing, and they need a lot more of our time…”
Silvia was stunned. “I’m sorry,” she said slowly. “I suppose I’ve been a burden…”
“Not at all!” cried Rita cheerfully. “It’s just, you know…I need time and privacy to be with my own family, and your problem isn’t easy…”
When Grace came to fetch her, Silvia had tears in her eyes, and through the entire hour’s drive to Grace’s home, she didn’t say a word. Grace tried to talk to her mother, but she just turned her face away and wept.
That evening after dinner, Silvia said, “I never wanted to ruin your life, to be a burden to you. I wish I was dead!”
“Dead?” cried Grace horrified. “Mom what are you talking about? I love you so much, I need you!”
But Silvia erupted into a storm of tears. “My diaper, I need to change my diaper and I can’t do it! All these disgusting tasks will fall to you!”
Grace wrapped her arms around her mother. “I love you mom, and cleaning your tushie isn’t going to be any different from you cleaning mine for all those years. When I was a baby you cared for me, fed me, and protected me — now it’s my turn to help you. It’s not a burden when it’s done with love.”
Silvia wept with joy. She knew that Grace would be there for her for the rest of her life, caring for her tenderly. As for Rita, at first, she visited every week, but as time went on, her visits grew further and further apart.
A year later, Rita was shocked and surprised to discover that the fat income from the rental property was now going to Grace in its entirety — and that Silvia had changed her will and left it all to Grace.