Issue 20 – Family Conference

John held his tablet nervously. The faces of his brother and sister looked back at him through the screen. Catherine and James were discussing James’ travel plans; he was headed off to somewhere in South America but John had missed where.
They had never talked over the internet like this. In fact, John had never used the little webcam on his tablet at all. But Catherine had called a family conference, and since they lived so far away from each other, this was the way to go.

“I would just be worried about all the bugs down there. They carry all those bad viruses!” Catherine was saying.

“I know, but the kids really want to go,” James replied.

John cut in. “So Catherine, what’s going on? What’s with the rush and everything? Are Mom and Dad okay?”

She sighed. “Dad’s about the same, but I’m worried about Mom.”

Inwardly, John rolled his eyes. Wasn’t this exactly what he’d tried to tell her a few weeks ago? But now she had finally come to her senses, so trust her to take all the credit.

Catherine continued, “I went over there the other day, cause you’d been harping on me to go, and…. Oh my god John, it’s bad! Their house is full of rotten food, and Mom just keeps going out and buying more. And she doesn’t even notice! I don’t think Dad has a clue. But I’m worried that her memory’s going. I mean, I found all these rotting vegetables in that old toy chest of mine, and she literally had no clue how they got there. I don’t know what to do!”

John sighed. He had been worried about this. But he lived so far away, and it wasn’t like he could up and move.

James brushed off Catherine’s concerns with his typical flaky attitude. “We could get someone in to help every once in a while. I’m sure they can afford it. It would be no big deal….”

“You’re not listening to me James! They’re our parents! And they’re not okay. They probably need more help than just ‘once in a while’.”

John listened to his siblings argue, following their comments and not able to get a word in edgewise.

“You know they’ve been considering moving into a home,” he said when they finally paused. “What if that’s the right choice? I mean, they’ve already been talking about it.”

“Yeah, but they aren’t ready to accept that Mom’s not well. They can’t even see it!” Catherine shot back, still uncomfortable with the idea of her parents moving.

“Are we sure about that?” John asked. “We haven’t even asked Mom or Dad how they are really doing. Or maybe she needs to talk to her doctor about it.”

“But she won’t bring it up if she goes, you know that,” James pointed out.

“Why don’t you go with her, Catherine, and raise your concerns with the doctor. Cause if she hears it from a doctor, she’s more likely to take it seriously, whatever it even is!” John was sure this was what the next step should be.

“She’s not going to like it,” Catherine replied.

“Tell her you’re just taking her for a routine check-up or something,” James suggested.
“Maybe I should just talk straight to her and Dad? That seems easier to me than all this roundabout!” Catherine proposed.

“I’m not sure that they’ll listen to us Catherine. They’re so stubborn and independent!”

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What should they do?

Have you had a family conference to discuss options for a parent or other loved one? Please share your comments and stories below.

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