Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Invisible

Deb: Throughout these last years as the care of my parents has become a more regular part of life, I have made some tragic observations. The most distressing of these is that my bright, funny, interesting, charming parents have become invisible. They have quite faded away in the eyes of most people.

I have been watching this with growing sadness at every social function we attend. As befitting their age and stage of life, they are always greeted by everyone in attendance. I have watched people ritualize them as if they are a King and Queen. They are treated warmly and enthusiastically, but also like figureheads who must be welcomed and respected but not lingered over. The respects are paid with very good intentions. But there is no “engagement”. They are no longer the people with whom you have an “interesting” conversation. So “hello” becomes enough. They aren’t up on pop culture references and what they have to say is outdated. So instead they are asked, “How are you doing?” in a loud voice. They are asked if they can be given more food or beverages. They are asked what they think about the weather and how they are enjoying the early spring. Of course there are those who go beyond this cursory greeting, but I would be lying if I said these were not the rarer breed.

I am not angry as I write this rather; I am heartbroken. I have noticed more and more how people just look right through Mom and Dad and other people of their age. I find it even more distressing given the contrast of my own experience.

When we were growing up, our grandparents were the centre of the visit, the reason you looked forward to going at all. I remember visiting my Granny, her Scottish tablecloth laden with sharp cheese, crackers, bread, canned corned beef, scones, jam, raisin bread, shortbread, and tea. Always tea, lots of tea. And that was just when I visited alone! Every visitor would have the same feast laid out before them. I can feel, smell, and taste those visits. I remember the light from the kitchen window and the sounds from the alley as we sat at that table, Granny and I. We would talk about life and her garden and the family gossip and when I left I felt that we had visited, really visited.

When I see any grandchildren of the invisible, it makes me so sad to think that they are not getting this visit of my past. And they are not learning about their past through these wonderful people who love them so much and just want to be loved in return. They might be surprised to learn for example that the things they think their grandparents are out of touch with are the very things their grandparents are fascinated and in awe of and would love to hear more about. And these grandchildren, without really truly knowing their grandparents, might never be able to say, “I do that, just like Papa” and be proud of their lineage, their connection.

I do know this. Paying respects to your elders at the beginning and ending of an event does little towards building a bond. The most painful thing to observe in these moments is the invisible noticing that they are invisible.  And you can scramble and rush to their side and try to fill the void. But it’s too late. They have already noticed and the hurt of it makes them a little harder to see.

Easter weekend, Colin, the Boy and I hosted an 85th birthday for my parents. We had a casual afternoon gathering and it was lovely. The only gift asked for was one of conversation with each of them. Now this particular gathering is what I would call, preaching to the choir. These are people in my parents’ lives. But even so, they took the invite to heart and chatted ones and twos and threes with Mom and Dad. And as a result, each of them who engaged my parents came away with a new story about their lives or an experience that had previously been unknown to them.

My parents for their part, had the best night. I could tell. Because at that party, on that day, they were the first people you saw when you walked through the door.

**One of my favourite John Pryne songs ends with this lyric:

“So if you’re walkin’ down the street sometime
And you should spot some hallow ancient eyes
Don’t you pass them by and stare as if you didn’t care
Say Hello in there. Hello.”

Barbara: As my parents and their spouses aren’t yet of this age (and by that, I mean they are still mobile, which means they can control their engagement), and as my grandparents, who are older, live so far away, I’ve never consciously observed this heartbreaking trend from centre-of-attention to invisible. But I can feel the truth of it, especially if people are in the mindset of not knowing how to greet our older generation—or even that they should and MUST. Have I engaged Deb’s parents before this celebration and Deb’s gentle request? Of course. And I have loved speaking and laughing with them. But there was something sweet—and not the least bit forced—about doing it consciously at their 85th. In fact, this is an excerpt from the thank-you letter I sent Deb after the party:

Thank you so very much for the absolutely lovely celebration for your parents. It was a gorgeous and wonderful day. Your parents are such loving and amazing people and deserve every bit of revelry and honour they get! You are a doll and wonderful daughter to always make sure they get their due. I love that you asked us to chat with them and I love that they had so much fascinating stuff to share. I had no idea your dad was such a Western buff and how he only really has patience for non-fiction. He regaled me with some great facts and stories about the wild west! Your mom is just so lovely and honest, telling about her frustrations and concerns, but also her love of life and for her family.

All this to say that by consciously making an effort, by consciously being aware of engagement and taking interest, I got so much out of the experience, so much more than just a superficial exchange of greetings or observations. And I think it’s a worthwhile bug-in-our-ears to make sure people like Deb’s parents get more than just a courteous greeting, but get their real and deserved due. And I guess in order to do that, especially as we get older and older ourselves, we need to remind and teach each other and our children to be aware of it. Open ears, open hearts. It’s another one of those win-win situations we love to embrace here!

47 comments:

  1. I am so sorry that your parents are sometimes invisible to people. It's just not right. I went through the same thing with my grandmother. People would say hello, how are you, then they were done. It made me so angry, to the point that I actually stopped talking to some members of the family because of it. If she was invisible to them, then they were invisible to me. They needed to learn a lesson from their actions. I think some people in my family that did this are regretting it now. My grandmother was the center of our family, she kept everyone in line, she knew everything about everything. After her first stroke, everything changed. No one knew how to handle it, but we just had to.
    I am glad that your parents' 85th was a success! They are lucky to have you, someone who is so devoted and loving and someone who will stand up for them.

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  2. Steph I'm sorry you went through this too. I have no doubt that many people who have seniors in their lives witness this. And I agree with you that they will regret it, which is sad too.

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  3. I know what you mean deb. I am going through the same thing witj my great grandmother. Its horrible hw people just ignore them. its seems like your lovely parents are are very strong people please tel them to stay strong. And u as well

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  4. Thanks Lyndsie and the same to your great Grandmother.

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  5. This made me cry, you articulated it so well. I watched it with my grandparents- made worse in the end for my grandpa when he got alzheimers. I was too young to really understand what was happening, I just remember my grandfather living with us and when people would come to 'visit' him they'd say hello and then just ignore him and talk to my parents. Now my parents are 70 and I completely understand when you say it's making you heartbroken. My dad is fine, but my mum says the combination of obvious illness and grey hair makes people run in the opposite direction at social functions. It is heartbreaking- I wish I could go back in time and change when I was thoughtless and didnt make more of an effort with people who needed it.
    Thankyou for sharing this, Im so glad the party went well. Your parents are very very lucky to have a daughter like you!

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    1. Thanks Samara, I am so sorry this is happening to your Mum already at 70. My Mum also has the added bonus of a wheelchair which makes some people act like she is mentally challenged instead of physically. You don't need to go back in time. You are already changing it. We all are.

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  6. I remember my grandparents as well. One was extremely active and younger and one was old or seemed old from the day I was born and interaction was limited because she seemed limited. My other grandmother was busy and showed me how to sew and use her sewing machine and make things and entertained me. My other grandmother sat in her chair and gave us orange jello. Not a lot of substance there. My mother who is 85 and totally disabled has no affect anymore. You must engage her or she would say nothing. We took her to dinner with the grand kids and she watched and listened but said few words as if it were too hard for her to engage. We asked her questions and she answered but didn't offer up her voice unless spoken to. Very sad for me to watch. We tried at least. Your parents sound much more active and engaged. I love your idea about making hte party about talking to them. Loved that they enjoyed themselves. My mom looks fondly at the event when home but forgets it soon after. Aging sucks on so many levels. Great post today Deb-you are one amazing daughter.

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    1. Thanks Madge. The thing is, at your family gathering people tried and that is all that's needed. Maybe that is all your Mom felt like saying but she was at least asked and that is great. But I so know what you mean because of course you remember her in younger days and yes yes sucks on many many levels. Lord knows I am a searcher of the bright side but sometimes...

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  7. Oh Deb I'm sorry that people don't always see them, I'm sure from all you've said here that they are wonderful people who would have plenty to contribute to any converstaion if people would just listen.

    I have a great respect for the elderly and I love to hear their stories. They have so much experience and wisdom and can give us so much more than just a figurehead. I've seen how some of my cousins and their children do this to my PaPere, how they say hello and goodbye and that's all. It makes me want to shake them and get them to see what they are missing by not really seeing or hearing him.

    Like this Sunday I sat my girls beside my grandfather and was delighted as they had real conversations with him. Some day and unfortunatly probably someday soon all I or my girls will have left is these moments and I'm thankful for everyone of them. I also got the sweetest photo of them so totally engaged with one another.

    I wish I could explain to my cousins why having these memories and these kind of photos is so much more special than what they take away from gatherings with him. They will have a few posed photos with an old man and no connection to it. Me and my children will have real pictures and the stories to go with them, real memories of a man who deserves to be remembered.

    This really struck a cord with me today as seeing him on Sunday I suddenly saw an old man at the table. He's 96 on Thursday so he's been an old man for some time now but he's never looked or acted like it before. I was very suddenly all to aware of how little time is left to hear his stories first hand. He's winding down and it breaks my heart. It makes me very thankful that he's not invisible to me or my children.

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    1. Erin thank you for sharing this. All we can be responsible for is ourselves right? And you are doing that. He will not be invisible to you or your children. That is sure.

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  8. I had similar experience like Steph. I remember that one of my aunt's was celebrating her 50th birthday, and instead of me saying happy birhtday to her, she was thanking me for taking care of her mother. That really ruined the whole thing for me. I was the one that listened to my granny when she was talking about how none of her children have visited her for a while. Or how when they come, they do nothing. The two years that I have lived abroad (not continuously) were the only times that other relatives tried to make an effort. But as soon as I got back, they dropped it.

    I also remember when I drove my drivers license (I didn't tell anyone. Only my dad knew because he paid for it) and told my granny that I had it she was so proud. Then she told one of my aunts and first thing that came out of my aunts mouth was "Did you pay for it?". I was told that she was really happy when my granny told her that she hadn't. Well in the end that aunt was quite happy that I was able to drive my granny around...

    The stories almost forgot about those (shame on me). It is so wierd to have the feeling that you know more about your grandparent than her kids do. That was one of the best things that we did. She told me about the past and I told her about the present.

    Like my granny said, every year is worth celebrating as you never know which one will be your last. All my best to (you and) your parents Deb and may you have more people attending next year.

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    1. Kasku, you are a good granddaughter and you will never ever regret it. You are not the first person who I have seen who is closer to the grandparents than the children are. It's odd isn't it? Sometimes the compassion skips a generation or maybe sometimes the relationship is too similar to work. What your Aunt said to you was awful. She sounds like she might be worrying about her inheritance doesn't she?

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    2. Of all the five children this aunt was not the one that we were worried about. She and my uncle were considered the good children. As I was the child of the "black sheep" (of the family), I got used to being considered second class. Somehow my (step)brother (who stayed with his dad) was not, he actually was liked more by rest of the relatives.

      Oh yes, one good thing about my mother I do have to say. She didn't care about the money when my granny's funeral was held. I tried to tell what my granny wanted as did my mother, but we weren't listened to. After her Will was read people told me that I deserved more. I didn't think so as I felt like I already had received more than they. But I guess if I would have actually got more, they would have been angry at me for steeling their share. :)) People are wierd.

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    3. Wow, this sounds so much like what I have been through with my "family". It seems like so many of them are out for their own gain, even though people are suffering. Your aunt reminds me of a certain person that I (and my mother) have had to deal with. Ugh. It seems like money is all people care about sometimes. I actually had to speak up a few times and let people know that money was not important, my grandmother was, and if neccessary, I would take care of any money issues (to put this in perspective, I am a college student and I am still trying to figure out how too pay for college). I was the youngest of the "adults," but honestly other than my mother and one other person, no one seemed to pay attention to what was important.
      I think that, in my odd family, I am the "black sheep." I don't really keep in contact with anyone other than my mother, and for good reason, but it seems that other people outside of the family don't see the truth of it. They just think it's a little odd that I am a loner (with my mother, of course) and that I don't know what's going on in everyone else's lives...
      Ah well...At least you were there for your granny. I am sure that meant a lot to her.

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  9. Saw this all the time when I did my clinicals in a nursing home. It was really sad. It's one of the reasons why I can't work in that kind of environment. No matter what I did, I still didn't feel like I was doing enough for these wonderful people.

    I remember when my dad's parents used to live so far away. It would be years before we saw them. Now that they have moved closer, my parents visit them more frequently. It's such a blessing! When I get my own car and money I will be visiting them too. Then there's my mom's dad. He has lived in Texas for almost two years now and was just moved into assisted living last month. Holly hasn't seen him in two years; for me it's been almost a year. He'll be 91 in August.

    I feel that a lot of times with the elderly people just don't know what to do, or to say. So they keep quiet. Guilty as charged. I try to make an effort to get to know the older folks better; I have to take care of them. They've lived almost their entire life and probably just want somebody to listen.

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    1. Kelly please don't feel guilty. Life is for learning. I did this post to raise awareness and it is never ever to late to start. It's funny how we think of old people like we have to come up with something to say to them isn't it? And yet we can start by talking about ourselves and opening up to them what we are doing. I always ask about their past. I ask what they are doing at the moment and what things they enjoy to do. It's easy if you just think of what you might like to be asked. Clearly you are someone who cares and is trying. That's all any of us can do right?

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  10. I think my family is going through a bit of a change this year, as far as my grandparents anyway. We are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this comming August and so we have been planning since last year! Most of the time, the only time that all of the children and grandchildren can find time to get together to plan this is when we are at my grandparent's house for a meal or celebration or other sort of family get-together. So while most of the adults scurry off to a bedroom to plan it is our job as the older children to keep Gram and Gramp out of earshot of the party planning. I have never spent so much time with my grandpaernts. I never thought that I was ignoring them before, but now I am learning all sorts of new things by just spending this extra time with them <3
    During Easter for example, when we were at their house I was able to talk to them about our ancestors and now have successfully tracked my grandpop's side of the family back to the 1840's. It is amazing to just sit and talk with them to figure out about our history and where we came from.
    I look forward to these party planning times now because I can learn so much just by listening to them!

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  11. Kelly that is wonderful!!! They have so much to share. And I always think it helps to look at them and remember two things-they were where you are and you'll be where they are. xo

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  12. GRANDPARENTS! Wow...I lost all of mine when I was a kid...Although I love to talk with old folks....they have so many wonderful stories to share....Ive always had wonderful bonds with them... My Mom's cousin's uncle and his wife have always been close to us...and he didn't have grand-kids when our families met and When he heard I lost all my grandparents..he came to me and said "YOU ARE MY FIRST GRAND-DAUGHTER...AND MY FAVOURITE....YOU REMEMBER THAT" even today when he sends me gifts he writes 'for my favourite grand-daughter' on the card....He is in his late 70's, but extremely healthy... I really admire his attitude towards life...He is ALWAYS travelling and very spiritually connected....and every time he goes somewhere he gives me a call and says 'I was in this temple today...I told that god to look after you....you should be fine..!!'..Its so sweet..! I love being around him..I can feel his love :) You are right Deb all they want is some love..I love being around old people...even if I dont know them or have nothing to say..I love being there with them coz They are so FULL OF LOVE....I used to feel the void because I didnt get my grandparents' love...But then I realized there are SO MANY old folks who love me.....people who live in my building, who live in our street....treat me as their own granddaughter and introduce me to their friends that way. And it makes me feel blessed...the best thing you can get is an old person's blessings and love!! And listening to their stories coz their life is filled with wisdom and wonderful experiences.
    Its weird you wrote this today Deb, coz I meant to ask you how your parents were feeling. I hope they are doing fine...tell them I send love EVERYDAY !! :)
    You really are a wonderful daughter Deb..In future god forbid if my Mom needs me..I just hope I can be half as wonderful as you are !!! :) LOVE YA HONEY xoxoxoxo

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    1. Oh..and I am here for you, if you need anything...dont forget that :) xoxo

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    2. Shalaka all I can say is, you are one lucky girl to have all of this love in your life. And they are so very lucky to have you!

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    3. I do feel very lucky.....Aww BLESS YOUR HEART FOR BEING SO SWEET !!
      xoxo

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  13. I SO wish I had my parents back - for one more day at least. To hug them and kiss them once more - to tell them I love them, to thank them..... To ask them questions, to listen - really listen. I would give almost anything. We are self-absorbed at times in life. If I had it to do over.........

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    1. Last week I recorded my Mom and Dad talking about life and it was wonderful. I asked them both if there is one regret that pops into their minds and my Dad said "I wish I could tell my Mother that I loved her" and he got very emotional. My Mom said "I wish I had asked my Mom and Dad these questions. It was a killer moment. I try not to sit in regret because I know it can consume me. I just try to tell myself that I did that best I could with what I had at that time.

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    2. True true, but......it makes me profoundly sad as it should. Kind of like, if the shoe fits? I wouldn't say it consumes me but.....I feel guilty as well as feelings of missing out. I prefer that over just forgetting about these failures of mine - that way I try to be a better person each and every day that I have left and in every way possible. Plus, with all those stupid movies I've seen where the deceased comes back.....I'm waiting for it to happen to me!!!! I would LOVE that to happen to me!!!! hmmmm I guess that's me still being selfish eh? Thanks for sharing btw - I think you guys are pretty awesome individuals from what I've read from you.

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  14. Deb, after hearing you describe your parents, how much of the life of the party they were, how people responded and reacted to them, it breaks my heart as well to hear that they are now only treated politely. So many people don't realize that "old(er)" only refers to age, not spirit.

    I remember an odd conversation my parents had once. My dad's mother lived in a "seniors" building, and went on all sorts of organized trips and bingo in the social room and many activities. She was also a voracious reader. She was adorable, and I wish I'd been older when she was around, to be able to have actual conversations, instead of standing around nervously while my dad visited with her. She became ill and was moved to a nursing home. She was no longer mobile, but she still read her favorite authors.

    My mother's mother lived alone after my grandfather passed, but was always out shopping with my mother, or whatever they were doing, and was ALWAYS on the phone with someone (usually my mother.) She was always mobile, but always dependent on my mother.

    One day my mother came home with several books to bring to my grandmother, and her mother wondered why they would get books that she obviously couldn't understand anymore. My mother told her, "OH no.- She's reading them, understanding them and discussing them with Roger (my dad) at length."

    It bothered me then, and now it absolutely blows my mind that a senior viewed another senior as "not there" anymore simply because she was in a nursing home and no longer out and about.

    My mother (70) still works and is still fully engaged with the outside world. My dad (76) used to be sociable with his friends, but has withdrawn into his own comfortable place, largely due to a growing inability to make it up the stairs. Our one bathroom is on the second floor, so he stays upstairs. (Purely practical purposes.) He doesn't want to talk about the past, about his family, but we talk about books. (I just smiled writing that, because it's the first time I realized we are, in some way, carrying on my grandmother's spirit. I like it.)

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    1. Dawn my heart swelled when you said "I just smiled writing that because it's the first time I realized we are in some way, carrying on my grandmother's spirit." And they great thing about your relationship with your dad is that you searched until you found the perfect subject to enjoy together and through talking about the books you learn more about each other. Lovely.

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  15. I know exactly where you are coming from Deb. You knew my Dad & how he loved to talk. Well in the last few years of his life he had Alzheimers & people seem to be nervous around, he talked alot about his childhood as that is what he remembered. Sometimes he did not make much sense but I loved to hear him talk. When you listen close you could learn alot about his life/family but most people did not want to listen to his "ramblings". I learnt more about him during his time here with me then I ever knew before. My grandkids loved him dearly...Grampy Frank. I miss him & Mom very much. People do not realize you should enjoy your parents now while you have them regardless of their health because they may not be here tomorrow. I have lived along way from my family for years & did not get to spend a lot of time with my Mom before she passed....I am very grateful I was able to spend the last few years with my Dad. Your parents are special people & I know you are a good daughter, I hope Craig spends as much time with them as you do Hugs to them for me Peggy

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    1. Peggy I thought about your Dad when I was writing this and wondered how people reacted to him when he was getting sicker. I'm sorry that they were nervous but so glad that you and your family was able to see the sweetness in him. Because he was the sweetest dearest man and my Mom and Dad loved him so much. I had a great last time with him at the birthday party for his birthday at his home in Whitby. I asked him about his garden and he Dad and I set off with him for a half hour as we went through each part. It was wonderful to see the joy in him as he spoke about each flower, each vegetable and how they were doing this season. My Mom couldn't come as she could not get up the steps in her wheelchair but I took Dad and I will always be so grateful for that day for your dad and my dad. When your Dad got ill and came out to live with you, Dad and Mom were very much in denial about what was wrong with him. Don't think they ever really accepted it. I am deeply happy that you got to spend these years with your Dad. And I remember your Mom so well. She was the loveliest gal and my parents adored her. Ahhh life huh Peggy. xo

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    2. Thank you for the wonderful words about my parents,they were the greatest people on earth [don't we all feel that way about our parents] Your words brought a tear to my eyes. I know none of Dad's family could accept his Alzheimer, it almost made me feel like a bad person trying to explain it to everyone & to get everyone to accept & it was hard when he passed but just knowing he is now with my Mom, the love of his life. Jo as he called her was his best friend as he always said. Your parent are wonderful people, enjoy & love them & spend as much time with them as you can because you never know when they will not be here. Please give them hugs from me Peggy xoxo

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  16. You and your family did such a great job on that 85th birthday. You're such an awesome daughter, and I bet your parents are very proud of you. I'm glad they weren't ignored but welcomed with open arms...

    It always makes me angry, when older people are treated with less respect, and are ignored or pushed away. My heart always bleeds.

    My other Grandparents died some years ago, and both were fading away the last years. My Grandma had Alzheimer, and because of a broken thigh, she was in a wheelchair.
    My Granddad was very sick.
    It was hard for me to see them like this, but I always treated them with respect.

    I don't know, if I should write this...but my Aunt, who took care of them...well I think she mistreated my Granddad (her father). One time, he told us that she had slapped him. And when we asked her about it, she lost it, and screamed...
    It broke my heart. Yes, it wasn't easy living with him, and yes, he made a lot mistakes...but you can hit someone....you just can't do it.

    I even experience this kind of invisibility with my Mom. Some people just stare at her, some are nice, but some ignore her...and that makes me so angry. My Mom doesn't deserve to be treated like that.
    When we were in a supermarket the path between the checkouts was not wide enough for her wheelchair. Instead of telling her that, the cashier kept on chatting with her colleague.
    When we left, I said loudly: Yup, we'll never buy here again...

    Every person is special - with all her/his handicaps, flaws, and difficulties.
    Every person should be treated with respect and love. You don't have to be friends with everyone, but you have to accept and tolerate other people.

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    1. I am so sorry that your Mom is treated this way. What is the matter with people? Your Aunt was inflicting elder abuse on your Grandfather and should be ashamed of herself. That makes me sick. They slap their easy targets. It is the worse kind of abuse to attack the vulnerable. Children, elders, animals. I'm sorry she did that to him as I know it's an awful thing for you to know Becki, especially now that he is gone. But you treated him with loving respect and that is what you shall remember.

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  17. In a way, reading these comments has felt a bit like all you lovely people are hosting a party like Deb's and I get to visit with all your families and with your beloved elders. I feel like I'm connecting to them through you and that I get to see and honour these extraordinary lives (and also, sadly, sigh at some faulted ones who don't know better). Thank you all so much for sharing these memories and thoughts.

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  18. Deb, I love how you came up with a practical solution to this. It's not something many of us are aware of for all the reasons the other commenters have named. It's interesting to me how as a North American society (egads, I'm lumping the Canadians with us in the lower 50 states!)we keep our children "younger" for longer and at the same time, we've infantilized the over 80 elderly.

    I'm so glad your parents enjoyed the party and that everyone came away with the gift of engagement.

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  19. Thanks Lisa. And I think it's true of a lot of us, north and south of the border. I think it's a north american thing. I think the Asian's (for one) have a great idea of what caring for and respecting the elderly is about.

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  20. Deb, I think you are a wonderful daughter and your parents are lucky to have such a kind and sensitive person caring for them. I know you think you are in in muck, but you truly aren't! You are creating diamonds everyday for your mom and Dad. It's hard, I know, but you are doing an amazing job of making their lives interesting and comfortable, and appreciating them while they are here. Your sensitivity astounds me......such a beautiful post, so true, and we should all be aware of the challenges of the elderly and engage them with warmth and kindness.

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    1. It's funny Mary-Jo and I thank you and everyone else for the "good daughter" comments but as I said to them on Saturday "if I did for you all day every day for the rest of my life, I could never pay you back for what you did for me" And...it's true.

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  21. It's so sad that this happens, that we don't treasure the older generations like we used to. People seem to forget that they'll be there themselves one day. I lost all of my grandparents before I was old enough to know them, and my dad not much later. I have a tape of him talking, though, which he recorded before I was born - one of my most treasured possessions. Just hearing his voice brings me closer. I worry for my mother now, nearing her seventies. Her memory isn't what it was and I fear that it's the beginning of a slippery slope. I often talk to her about things in her past, her childhood, meeting my dad. It keeps the memory fresh for both of us.

    Love and hugs to you, Deb, and your parents. xoxo

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  22. Best wishes to your parents, Deb.
    My Opa (grandfather) died recently and you've made me remember something about him that I hadn't thought about before. At family gatherings (which were huge because we are a very large family), Opa usually made the meal and the drinks. At home, I always got forgotten. My Dad would be the one to make the drinks and he would, without fail, completely forget to get me one. It was not deliberate, I can assure you. But it happened every time. However Opa never forgot me. I think maybe he knew what it was like to be invisible because of his nearly 60 years of marriage to my Oma who always has everybody's attention. I don't mean that in a bad way, I just mean she has a more extroverted personality than he did. Anyway I think that maybe because of that he learned to make sure that he never missed anyone out. So thanks for adding another lovely memory :)

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    1. Oh Aimee what a story. It was so moving and I thank you for sharing it with us. Yes he knew that you were forgotten like him that's true but it is also possible that he loved you to bits and had to make sure you knew it in any way he could show. xo

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  23. I have just returned from a day spent with my granddaughter and the funny thing is I had a tearful moment with her today. I didn't tell my daughter of course but I was looking at Mariella and wishing for the world that she could know her Grandpa Stone and how much he would have loved knowing her.

    I grew up with only one Grandma, my maternal Grandmother Seus and also met her mother great grandmother McLaughlin. I never had the opportunity to know my father's parents, the Doyles because as I said he left when I was about seven. I remember my dad telling me his mother was a Cannuck but I never met her.

    I have never had a close relationship with my mom but she is the only parent I have left now. I try to learn all I can and my brother Jimmy and I even did some investigating and found that my Grandmother came here from Scotland in her twenties and became a citizen then. We always thought she was born here.

    One thing I insisted on from the beginning was that my children absolutely respect my mother. My children are very close to my mom, they call her often, they knock on her door before entering, they always ask if she needs anything, and they come and go with a hug and a kiss. Sometimes I'm ashamed to admit I envy the relationship they have with her because it's one I never had. At the same time I'm thankful for it. My daughter Amanda in particular is very close to my mom and they even have similar personalities. Amanda always asks my mom about her past and I find myself listening in fascinated. My mom once told Amanda about growing up on a rural farm in Woodside Queens across from Jewish cemetary and playing happily in a field next to it. The Queens I have known all my life is a congested city I have visited twice in my life. I can't even imagine it as a rural farm area. If you only listen you hear the most amazing stories. I wish my father were still here there is much I would ask him but it's too late now.

    My mom will be 80 in December and we, her seven remaining children are trying to decide what we could do for her. What mom really enjoys though is being around her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and telling stories. People used to be great story tellers I hope that will never be a lost art.

    Your parents are blessed to have you as a daughter Deb and I'm sure your son has learned valuable lessons from his parents. I will keep them in prayers tonight. One thing I'm thinking of doing with my mom is taping her telling some of her stories, maybe you could do that too?

    I realize I wrote a book here, very sorry. I just saw Colin's site posted that he was going to be in NY soon. I wish you and Barb traveled with them we could meet and have coffee and chat for hours. XOXO

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    1. Mary you are a good parent and a good daughter for making sure your children respected their grandparents. Out of respect comes love. Sometimes we force our children to step up and through that, they learn what life and love is about. Wonderfully well done, Mary.

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  24. I work in the Activity dept. of a LTC home. Even more saddening is the gradual 'depersonalizing' of the staff. Instead of a person w/rts, needs, and wants; they become 'the one who always needs the toilet', or 'the one who calls out for help', or so on and so forth. It wrenches me when I go to a care aide b/c a resident is pleading to go to the toilet, and they say 'when I get there!'; or worse 'he just went 5 minutes ago' in that you're-bothering-me-tone. These ppl start off helpful and eager, mind you. It's just the tolls of long hours, short staffing, and over exposure. I just figure it's all like shopping cart karma - the belief you will be somehow punished for every shopping cart you brazenly leave behind in the open lot - those who do the 'ignoring' will one day be ignored in return.

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  25. Yes those who do the ignoring become the ignored. I agree. Not that I am big on revenge mind you, I'm not. At all really. But I just wish they would learn this lesson first before it was taught the hard way to them. Maybe.

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  26. I am late joining in on the conversation because I just got home from spending a week with my 87 year old grandmother. She was gracious enough to let me and my five children come to stay with her (we were actually about 2 hours away from Toronto in New York.) The most amazing thing of all is that we had a hard time keeping up with Gran. This woman is amazing! She is on the go all of the time.

    Still, there is no knowing how much longer she'll be with us. She had a childhood so different from my own. She grew up in the country in the 30's during the depression. Her mother had grown up in Glasgow, Scotland and brought her Scottish ways to the wild wilderness of east Texas. Gran loves to share her stories of her childhood and I love to hear them. I hope my children learned a little about their great-grandmother this week, her life, her ways and her incredible hospitality and energy.

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  27. Molly what a wonderful trip you have had with your family. You will never regret it and your children will remember their Gran long after she's gone. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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