All posts tagged: Elders

The Real Cost of Caregiving

The Real Cost of Caregiving

When I was recently in Pittsburgh, giving my sister a much-needed break from taking care of our mother, I heard a sharp cracking sound, followed by something hitting the floor. I was sitting in the kitchen at the time and raced down the stairs to find my mother on the floor, beside the desk, in the den. The keyboard shelf was lying next to her, with the keyboard dangling slightly above, still attached to the computer by a cord. “Are you okay?” I asked, helping her up and into the chair. She didn’t seem to be injured. “I’m okay,” she said. “What happened?”  “I fell,” she said. “What happened to the desk?” I asked, though I already knew the answer. She must have used the keyboard shelf to help herself up from the desk chair, and it couldn’t support her weight. “I don’t know,” she said, with a sense of surprise. “Really?” “How’d that happen?” she asked. “Did Ollie do that?” I asked, referring to my 14-pound Westie, who had spent the morning downstairs with …

Come Sleep with Me: Caretaking Mom

When I turned 50, I rediscovered the splendid stretch of my own bed. Marriage-free after 25 years, children grown and gone, no pets with their whiny demands, I could haunt the night without fear of rousing man, child, or beast.   There are those who long for the late-night solace of someone else’s arms. But solitude cracked the night open for me, and my bed became my sanctuary, my spa, my office, my library, my snack bar. On my nightstand, Alexa played Esperanza Spalding when I was writing, or read me Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed as a bedtime story. Next to Alexa was a lavender-scented candle, and usually a glass of red wine or a cup of strong, black coffee. The marriage bed, the birthing bed, the family bed, was finally the ark of my own joy.  Then in the summer of 2016, I abandoned my Detroit home of thirty years, put my belongings in storage and moved to coastal Virginia to live with my parents. They were in their 80s, their minds fading much faster …

Fvmbe Humor: Honoring My Ancestors with Belly Laughs

In my culture — the Mvskoke (Creek) tribe — humor is a constant. There’s even a certain genre of humor which one of our scholars, Craig Womack, termed “fvmbe humor.” (In Creek, “v” is pronounced like a “u.”) “Fvmbe” means “stink,” and “fvmbe humor” often has to do with the body, though it’s not crass. It is difficult to translate, but we’ve kept the word despite the government’s many attempts to take away our language and culture. Laughing at certain things is almost a marker of belonging. But another marker of belonging is knowing when not to laugh, when not to let suppressed giggles burst out at the wrong time. Especially, in church. My family attends a Mvskoke Baptist church. As is custom in our tribe’s churches, the church house is in the center, and it is surrounded by family “camphouses” — small houses which are usually just a dining room, kitchen, and seating area. Some have a bedroom because some people stay at church from Saturday evening to Sunday night. All of us stay …