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Caregiving for Margaret

Margaret was such a joy in my life, I want to share some more about caregiving. She was my housekeeper for 20 years and someone I took care of for another 20 years when she had Parkinson’s. I started my day sitting down to a breakfast of 2 poached eggs on English muffins, fresh squeezed orange juice, bacon, and coffee. Margaret put up with my menagerie of pets including two to three dogs at a time, depending on the year, a cockatoo, amazon parrot, a severe macaw, several smaller birds, lizards, and even a snapping turtle. I used to bring the dogs to work. When I worked late, I’d send the dogs home in a cab, telling the cab driver “the woman at the address will pay the cab fare.” In short, Margaret took care of my life. In return, I took care of her life. I remember when I bought her first car. We took our first ride together, and Margaret had never driven a stick shift. When we headed up a steep hill, she pushed the clutch instead of the brake, and we found ourselves heading downhill going backward. The next day Margaret had an automatic. I used to send her on vacation to Lake Charles, LA, where she grew up and visited with her family. When she returned, I had bottles of fig preserves (my favorite). Margaret retired and shortly after was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. That was the beginning of our next chapter together. As time passed, we took care of anything she needed, whether it was a new pair of reading classes, an apartment to grow old in place and live out her final years, around-the-clock care as her Parkinson’s progressed, plenty of company with another menagerie of dogs and friends, and always some special treats. When she was able, we took her to the park. When she wasn’t we celebrated. I was her prepaid 401K plan.Margaret loved jigsaw puzzles. Al would bring her a variety of jigsaw puzzles, and they would spend hours together working them out. When each puzzle was complete, Al would shellac them and mount them to her walls to provide color and pride in accomplishment throughout her apartment. As the months and years passed, her apartment was covered with colorful and cheerful jigsaw puzzles on every wall. When Margaret was in rehabilitation for a fall, we made sure there were jigsaw puzzles and friends there to help her solve them. Margaret is someone who is with me in spirit every day. I asked her to please put her shoe in the pearly gates and hold them open for me, and she promised she would. I hope someday we will meet again.

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