I lost my sister, Karen Wolf, on June 22. My brother-In-Law Ron called at 7:30 am to let us know that she had died at the breakfast table in their hotel in Germany. With a broken heart, I helped my husband Paul to throw some things into the motorhome and head to Palm Beach Gardens, Fl.
My sister had been taking care of my parents who are in their late 80′s. My mom and dad live about a mile from her home in an independent living center. They have their own spacious apartment but need help virtually every day. My mom is almost blind and deaf and my dad has Alzheimer’s.
Karen had been accompanying them on doctor’s visits, administering their medication, taking them shopping, paying their bills, doing their taxes and filing their insurance claims. She also had them over for dinner often and saw to it that all their needs were met.
My sister was a senior account representative for a trust company in Palm Beach before her retirement last year. She had organized the lives of her wealthy elderly clients with compassion and skill. Knowing that tragedy could strike at any time, she prepared me to take over in case something should happen to her.
Last winter Karen introduced me to all my parent’s doctors and the other helpful folks who are so necessary in their lives. She sent me Excel spreadsheets detailing every aspect of my parent’s care from their financials to their medications. She had made up packets for each of my parents that contained their IDs, medical information, living wills, and all legal papers related to powers of attorney. These packets were to be handed to medical personnel in case of an emergency.
Now I am here in Florida and I am once again visiting all the doctors to let them know that Karen has passed. Every day I encounter shock, disbelief, and tears. The good people involved in my parent’s care had forged strong bonds with my sister. My parent’s primary care physician told me that he was devastated at her death.
It has been a terrible week. Each new day brought confusion and anguish from everyone who knew her. My own grief must be set aside so that I can begin the monumental task of managing my parents care from 1000 miles away. There will be some difficult decisions to make and I am struggling with the implications of leaving them behind when I return home. There isn’t a health care aide on the planet that can replace a daughter.
I lost my dear sister and best friend in the world Sunday morning. Karen and I immigrated to the United Sates from Germany along with my parents in 1956.
Karen died of a massive heart attack while on vacation in Germany with her husband Ron. She had never had any heart problems.
I am completely devastated and can’t imagine how my life will proceed without her.
I have warned you that I will be off-topic for a few months as I work through my annual inability to crochet in the summer! Judging from the response I received to my last post, Toxic Talk, I seem to have hit a nerve. It’s refreshing to air my heartfelt views from time to time and to find that you are interested and engaged and willing to share with me as well. Be prepared for more of this in the future!
Learning to Drive
For a few weeks now I have been regaling you (and hopefully not boring you!) with accounts of the purchase of our new motorhome and all the preparation that we made to get it ready for the road. When you invest in such a project, you feel almost driven to justify the expense by using it as much as you can. To that end, Paul and I have decided to take mini trips in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. Not only will this enable us to get to know our adopted state better, but we will have the additional benefit of many tiny vacations throughout the year. But first I had to learn to drive that puppy!
So a few Sundays ago, very early in the morning, Paul drove the motorhome to the local elementary school and I got into the driver’s seat. Now, I had driven the truck-fifth wheel combination that we had previously all over the country! But somehow, sitting in a huge bus-like contraption seemed very intimidating. I was worried that I wouldn’t judge the width properly and sideswipe parked cars on my right or stray over the center line on my left. I had watched Paul driving and he tended to get very close to curbs and cars on the passenger side.
Nevertheless, I scootched into the driver’s seat and navigated around the school parking lot without a problem. Then I got really brave and drove through the narrow streets of my town! Cars were parked on the right but I negotiated all turns without incident. I was ready for the highway. Onto Interstate 83 I went, easing myself off the ramp and into the flow of traffic. What a kick! I have to admit that driving the motorhome was actually easier than hauling that 14,000 pound trailer! So now I am ready for our next sojourn down to West Palm Beach.