As readers of this blog know, I have an older sister, Barbara, who lives in a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Southern California much like the one in which I live here in North Carolina. Barbara is 3 ½ years older than I am so I think of her as my big sister, even though she is now even shorter than I am. Barbara went to school before I did, of course, and when she came home she would want to play school, with her as the teacher. Since I was the only little kid around, I was the pupil and so it was that she taught me to read. Along with all of her other accomplishments, Barbara was a great dancer and when I got to be 12 or 13 she taught me the Foxtrot and the Lindy Hop.
Well, eighty years or so have passed, and she is still teaching me things I need to know. Yesterday, through the miracle of FaceTime, I spent 40 minutes talking to Barbara about this and that. Barbara has for some time been in a wheelchair and she has regular caregivers, who come to her apartment to help her. As my Parkinson’s gets worse, I am forced to face the fact that at some point I will need the help of caregivers to manage my life, especially so that I can continue to look after my wife. I am, to be honest, somewhat humiliated by this fact and also resistant to it. I cannot figure out quite how it would help to have someone in the apartment a certain number of hours each week since the things with which I need help seem scattered throughout the day and more or less random in their occurrence. I asked Barbara how she handled having caregivers and patiently, slowly, she explained it to me.
This is a dance quite as challenging as the Lindy Hop and I am grateful once more to have a big sister to teach me how to do it.