When I last heard from Lacey, she was having a crummy holiday season.
She’d spent Christmas Eve in an airport, catching an exorbitantly-priced, last-minute, cross-country flight home to be with her ailing, aging parents, both in the same hospital but on different floors.
She then missed the rest of the holiday season as her husband, back at home, struggled to find care for their school-aged daughter—home on break—while Lacey sorted through the hassles of her parents’ insurance issues and future care needs and plans. For the most part, she told me, she was just trying to get through every day.
Once her parents made it through their life-or-death issues, she flew back home.
Lacey is a responsible adult who loves her family. Yet despite knowing that her parents were in rapidly declining health and had no one nearby to help them with their care, she’d opted to wait until an emergency occurred (her father fell and broke several ribs and then subsequently developed pneumonia, all from trying to care for her mother on his own), rather than to have put into place some kind of emergency plan of action.
It’s the same thing I find myself harping on time and again: Talk to your parents before something happens. Know what to do before these inevitable events take place. Have a plan at the ready.
In Lacey’s family’s case, she told me that since Mom had refused to consider leaving home for assisted care living, she didn’t bother pushing the issue. Since the other, much nearer, sister was in school, worked full time, also had her own family and refused to be of any help, she, Lacey, has to hop on a plane and fly across the country in the event of parental troubles.
This family needs help.
It’s always easier to be an outsider looking in on another family’s issues, it’s true. However, in this case, I sense either denial or avoidance of something … I’m just not yet certain what that something is. I’m hoping that a conference call with the two sisters can help right this ship and get them working more as a team, especially for the sake of their parents—who are now out of the hospital and left at home on their own to convalesce once more.
Perhaps the problem has more to do with the sisters’ relationship than with their relationship to their parents? It’s too early to tell. Regardless, through counseling, even by phone, I aim to help both sisters feel heard and understood, and to guide them to finding imminent solutions before the next crisis arises.
It’s not as if this situation is going away anytime soon….
I want to help.
All the best,
Rabbi Scott Saulson, Ph.D.