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A Snapshot of Inconvenience


Let’s start off with a bit of reality: life is not convenient and it is often filled with guilt.

For three weeks, my grandmother had been mentioning that her assisted living facility was going to bring in a photographer. Each time she mentioned it, I reminded myself to look at the activities board on the way out. Inevitably, I never look at that board. We are almost always on a mad dash out as the youngest is having a temper tantrum or the oldest reminds us there is still homework to be done.

“Don’t you need some new pictures of the kids,” Grandma would hint. For three weeks it was the same question.

Of course I need new pictures of the kids; they haven’t had pictures done in years. Thanks for reminding me of one more thing feel guilty about– not keeping up with pictures of my children. But having my kids’ picture taken at an assisted living facility isn’t exactly what I had in mind, and quite honestly, there was just too much going on to fit in a photo shoot.

I kept putting Grandma off, telling her that we would see. Each time I pushed it off, I felt immense guilt for not being excited to give her something that would make her happy. Shouldn’t every request be met with an enthusiastic “Yes!”?

The problem with putting things off (a habit I know all too well), is that eventually they come due. At some point, you have to have an answer whether you’re filled with guilt or not.

“Pictures are this week, Cath, and I saved the forms and information for you. You know the first 5x7 is free,” Grandma said as she searched through a stack of papers, pulling out just the right ones.

This was it; I couldn’t put her off any longer. I was going to have to suck it up and either tell her I didn’t want to do it or rearrange heaven and earth to make it happen.

With my jaws clenched, I went through the list of things that needed to be done for these pictures: wash and press clothes, bathe the kids on Wednesday and pray they stay that way, leave work early on Thursday because they will likely need another bath before we go, cancel plans to an event I had promised to attend, figure out what to do with my daughter’s uncontrollable hair, decide how to schedule in her homework that night, and plan a quick and easy dinner.

“Sounds, good Grandma; let’s get signed up.” I did my best to sound excited at the opportunity, but I’m sure she noticed the frustration.

Then I felt bad. I felt ashamed that my willingness to do it was out of guilt for putting her off so long. I was ashamed that I couldn’t be excited or at least hide my guilt a little better.

Here I was worried that my busy life was going to get even busier and even more inconvenient because an old woman wanted pictures of her great-grandkids. After everything my grandmother has done for me – all the times her life was inconvenienced for me – I was getting all flustered over some pictures. So on top of feeling overwhelmed and frustrated, I was feeling guilt and shame.

I accomplished the list of things to make the pictures happen and I toted both kids – freshly bathed and coiffed across town. Just getting my daughters hair to look like something other than a Halloween wig is an Olympic sport. I had a bag full of snacks to keep them occupied if we had to wait, and even managed to wrestle the toddler into a button-up shirt.

As we walked into Grandma’s assisted living facility, I noticed there didn’t seem to be a photo shoot going on anywhere. In fact the sign-up sheet was still sitting out.

My blood pressure began to rise and I instructed both kids (with clenched teeth) to sit quietly on the couch while I figured out what was going on.

I asked at the reception desk, and the woman had no idea what I was talking about. As I tried to decide if I was just crazy, I looked at the sign-up sheet.

I was a week early.

I put on my prettiest smile – the one I hope distracts people from the raging voice in my head – and took my beautiful children by the hand. I tried to squash all negativity as we spent the next hour with Grandma laughing at what a silly mistake I made.

I’d like to say that my laughs were sincere, and that this was one of those times I could honestly just laugh at myself, but I couldn’t help but be reminded that I would have to go through this all over again the next week – hopefully without all the guilt.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. April 17, 2017 at 10:16 am | Posted by Mary Decker

    My father has been in a nursing home for almost 21/2 years. He started with a broken hip and than went downhill. He cannot care for himself, has compression fractures, has to have vicodin, heart rate is slowing, incontentint, cannot hear, losing weight. In essence, he is dying before my eyes. I am an only child and went through this 9 years ago with my mother. Unfortunately I have developed acute depression, high blood pressure, and loss of sleep. My children are not sympathetic. Each time I go to the nursing home my father begs me to bring something to help him die. I feel useless. If my father were an animal I would put him to sleep. I cannot get him on Hospice in the county we live in. I cannot take much more of the stress as i feel I am losing myself daily. I have made a will to have care for him if I die first; which I think is likely. I cannot go on like this. Please send any suggestions as I am waving in the wind out hear. I see a psychiatrist, a therapist and a medical provider. What am I to do. I am 70 years old and have no quality of life.


  2. October 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Posted by Bert Copple

    Here's a great opportunity for family caregivers to learn how they can create and implement a good plan of care for their loved ones! Nov. 3, Web Conference Helps Caregivers Create Effective Care Plan for Aging Parents In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, the nonprofit National Private Duty Association (NPDA) has announced that it will host a consu...mer education web conference entitled Creating a Care Plan for Your Parents on Nov. 3, 2011, at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. CT). The live and interactive program will provide advice on how family caregivers can work with care professionals to develop an effective plan of care for a loved one. Caregivers will learn how to identify key issues and problems, locate needed experts, and outline expected outcomes to ensure that a parent is cared for in the best manner possible. The event is free of charge to participants. The web conference topics include setting up a successful plan, the plan components, implementation of care, managing expectations, care evaluation and warning signs. “Empowering family caregivers through the use of an effective care plan aids both adult children and their parents,” said Sheila McMackin, president of NPDA. “A well-planned and monitored plan helps an aging parent to thrive, while remaining comfortable at home.” The event’s expert presenter is Bert Copple, general manager of the Home Instead franchise located in Birmingham, Mich. This franchise has been named a Top 40 Workplace by the Detroit Free Press in 2010 and 2011. In addition, his office was ranked as the number one Home Instead franchise in North America for caregiver and client satisfaction in March of 2011. Copple earned a master’s degree in theology and a M.Div. in Leadership. He is a decorated war veteran, serving in Iraq with the U.S. Army. In addition, he is a licensed minister and chaplain, a published author and an adjunct faculty member at Central Bible College. Pre-registration for the event is required. Sign up today by visiting the registration link at The NPDA is the first and only association in the country dedicated exclusively to private pay home care providers. The NPDA, a nonprofit organization, currently represents more than 1,300 home care agencies in forty-four states and Puerto Rico. ###


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