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Ask Paul B: Be a Mensch (Yiddish: “A person of integrity and honor”)

Tue October 09 2012 12:04 pm  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=56108
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Dear Paul B,

There is no problem here, just some advice to others (not trying to steal your thunder now,) and a few observations. My elderly Dad is now 86, and suffers from Alzheimer’s, and I am his sole care-giver. He is a sweet man, and gave his all to all of us kids his whole life. He was a vet, and a wonderful husband as well. He took me in when I was between relationships and even stood up to an ex-boyfriend who was twice his size. My Dad has always been my hero, and now he needs me. My children and my two brothers call me “nuts,” because he has become MY burden. Neither brother has offered their physical help at all. They both write checks to me, because of their guilt. I am sure that Dad would love to see them, even once a month, but he is not a priority. My eldest (and brightest) brother tells me that his memory is “shot,” and he doesn’t even remember him. Should we not buy flowers because they die so fast? Should we not tell someone we love them, because we told them last week? Should we not help a senior across the street, because someone else will probably do it? Should we not care for our parents, who were there for us our entire lives? I am angry, hurt and equally confused by “others” actions. How can sons/daughters be so callous and cold?

Kristy

++++++++++++++++

Dear Kristy,

You bring to light some very difficult issues here. I can only tell you that your brothers contributions are better than absolutely nothing. Do NOT look a gift horse…… Many men do not have that soft side, that affectionate and warm fuzzy ability to care for others, even Moms or Dads. I am not suggesting that they are in any way justified by their actions, but they have convinced themselves that their checks make them even. We are all aware that you provide the “true grit,” of your Dads day to day needs. You should seek out some part time help so that you too may have time to enjoy YOUR LIFE. You are a true angel, but your Dad, if he were well, would tell you to have a life outside of permanent caregiver. I wholeheartedly agree that many offspring run from aging and ill parents. They are cowards and cruel people. I pull no punches about that. We must do whatever we can to give our parents comfort. Most other countries care for parents as we do our own children. This begs the question, “why are Americans one of the few countries who find that retirement communities are so terrific for parents?” Are we too selfish to allow them in our homes? Some people treat strangers way better than their own folks.. Figure that one out, and I’ll pay for your dinner!

Paul B

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ASK PAUL B! usually appears on Thursday evenings, but occasionally appears on other days or times so the article might be introduced to new readers.

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