Welcome to Stories of Caring for Elderly Parents

Dauna Easley and Marky Olson began teaching together in the early 1970s.  Their paths lead to different parts of the country but the annual Christmas card kept them in touch.

Both of them love writing and both have been published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. Both earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.
Both of them taught elementary school and moved on to teaching high school.
Both enjoy long marriages, children and grandchildren.

And now, both of them are caring for Elderly Parents.

Marky’s mother is gone now and her father lives in an Adult Family Home in the Seattle area.

Dauna’s mother still lives in her own home, near Dauna’s home in the Cincinnati area.

Suddenly, their Christmas-card friendship has rebuilt itself on the strength of the past and the challenging power of walking the final path with elderly parents.

Read Dauna and Marky’s stories in blog posts and their book

Caregiving Elderly Parents: Real Stories from two Caregiving Baby Boomers

Most recent post:

Bag Lady

When I used to teach, I often would come up with activities to use as ice breakers or introductions at the beginning of the school year.  Some years I asked students to put their life in a bag and bring it to school.  They were to reflect on their lives and fill the bag with a few items that represented events or activities from their past or present that were important to them.  When their turn came to share, they would pull items from their bag and describe the significance of the particular objects they had chosen to gather.  This helped my students get to know one another quickly.

I never dreamed during those years that I would live my life from a bag in an entirely different way.  Those of you who are regular readers know that my husband died only a few months ago.  Two days later my pipes burst and flooded my home.  The past few months have been overrun with challenges.

Again and again I have been required to produce paperwork for one task or another.  After a couple of weeks of frantic scrambling looking for important papers, I found myself collecting all these papers and keeping them in a bag.

I don’t know if it is my age to blame, or my stress level, but when I file things away, no matter how organized I try to be, my brain fails to remember the file name I used.  Did I put the insurance papers under burst pipes, flood, insurance claims, water crisis, or God help me?  Who knows?

At the time all of these events occurred simultaneously, I happened to have a bag around that had zebra stripes.  It was eye-catching and obvious. I couldn’t possibly lose that, could I?  And if your life is taking you for a wild ride, I reasoned, zebra stripes are appropriate.   It stood out like…well…a zebra in my house.  It had zero chance of getting lost or misfiled in my file drawer.

In the beginning I had no idea how much paperwork was going to be stored in the bag.  It started out housing my husband’s death certificate, and our certified marriage license.  Yes, you will need both of these over and over again.  The bag now also holds his and my W2 forms, his and my Power of Attorney and health directives, documents from the probate office, car titles, the deed to my home, the living trust and do not resuscitate orders.  It has his will, my will and the trust that passes my home to my daughter when something happens to me.  It contains copies of paperwork I have submitted to social security and retirement programs along with the dates that I communicated with each of them.  It has names, phone numbers and email addresses of insurance adjusters, agents and contractors who have worked on repairs to my home.  It has insurance estimates that are 25 pages long and all of their addendums.  It even now holds a copy of my credit report.

Maybe no one else is organizationally challenged like me.  Maybe other people can remember the file name they use for important documents.  It seems ridiculous that I can’t.  But this is no time to beat myself up for my idiosyncracies.  Life has beat me up enough recently and I’m not going to march in that parade.  I’m simply saying the zebra bag works for me.  It may take me a few moments to rummage through my bag to find the document you’re requesting.  But one thing is for sure, I now know (within reason) where it is.

Is this a confession or a proclamation?  I don’t know for sure.  Maybe it’s embarrassing to have your life in a bag.  But it works for me. I remember in the last decade or so that I taught, each teacher had a bag in the classroom that hung on the wall.  It was the Emergency Bag.  It often was a neon color and hung in a prominent place.  Whenever there was a school emergency, you were to grab the emergency bag and proceed to your safe place.

In my personal life during the past few months, there seems to be no really safe place.  But I know where my emergency bag is and it has zebra stripes.  If I were you, I’d buy myself an crazy colored bag and start collecting.  Just in case.

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