By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

(Not So) Common Sense
With age comes both privilege and loss
By Carole Townsend

 

Note:  This is a version of a piece I wrote in 2013, just a few months before my father passed away at 93 years of age. I thought, in light of present circumstances, it might deserve another look. I have added a few more thoughts, three years after his death. If any of you is caring for an aging  (originally written in January 2013)

I went to have lunch earlier this week with my 93-year-old father. He lives in a wonderful assisted living facility in Johns Creek, where the atmosphere is calming, pleasant and friendly. My dad is, for all practical purposes, blind, so this atmosphere matters more to him than it might to you or to  Dad is always happy when one of his children comes to visit, as time is the most precious commodity to an elderly parent. I’m coming to learn that it’s the most precious element to all of us, but an aging parent is acutely aware of that fact. Dad is sweet and welcoming whenever any one of us arrives (he’s a holy terror with the staff, but we’re working on that), and it’s  

I’m always amused when I watch my father interact with the nurses, staff and other residents where he lives. I’m a firm believer that people who choose to go into the profession of caring for the elderly are of a special ilk; No matter my dad’s mood, the men and women who look after him on a daily basis treat him with dignity and respect, along with a seemingly bottomless supply of friendliness. They smile, they speak kindly, and they  I had to laugh – just to myself of course – when we had lunch together on this particular day, as we were seated at a table with two other men. Even at that age, there seems to be a pecking order, a hierarchy, and it’s based solely on who’s resided at that address the longest. It seems that, at that table anyway, my dad outranked the other two gentlemen. Passersby spoke to Dad first, the servers served him first, and the women who were lunching  Needless to say, my dad is in his element. Sure, he’d rather be living in his own house, surrounded by all of his own stuff, but at 93 that’s just not practical, and it hasn’t been for years. So he holds court pretty much daily, flirts a bit with nurses one-third his age, eats very well, and waits for a I made a mental note as I left him in his tidy apartment to be sure to carve out more opportunities like the one we had this week, just the two of us talking about nothing in particular, but saying, “I love you” just the same, for my dad would be quick to tell you that time is indeed the most precious commodity. 

Dad has been gone for three years now. I suppose I’ll get used to that one day, but it hasn’t happened yet. When something happens, no matter how big or small it may be, my first thought is still to pick up the phone and call him. Early on, I even did that a few times. It shakes me and I remember, I can’t do that any more. 

Many people my age are even now trying to juggle caring for their children while caring for, or managing the care for, a parent. It’s tough, not a job for sissies. Managing his care can be frustrating and difficult, I know, but I would encourage you to enlist all the help you can get, because the time 

Dad, if you’re listening, I miss you.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and living in her beloved South.Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and living in her beloved South. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com