Special AFE Presentation, Advocate Anecdotes
Advocate Anecdotes are real stories from real people who have been through the thick of it when it comes to family caregiving. Their stories inspire us to do well, take our hardships one day at a time, and most importantly, they bring us together.
Because – no one should have to navigate the complicated world of eldercare alone and unsupported.
I was born in 1956. A time when women stayed home. Their responsibility was housekeeping, cooking, laundry, shopping, and raising the kids; and when evening
arrived, they dressed up to greet their husband, taking his coat and hat – and dinner was always already on the table.
My dad was the classic example of a successful entrepreneur who wasn’t around much when I was young. Still, I was in awe of him as he sat at the head of the table with mom catering to his dietary palate (usually red meat and potatoes). Of course, he’d have a cocktail or two, and then he would disappear into the TV room. He’d often fall asleep in his chair with the TV blaring.
I was a true daddy’s girl. I adored my father.
My earliest memories are of me sitting in my daddy’s lap. He and I would watch football together on Sundays.
He was an incredible piano player.
He was the reason I learned to play too, and even majored in music when I went to college.
Dad talked to me about world events. We always had spirited debates about politics and religion.
Dad taught me that opinions mean nothing unless you can back them up with facts. He would tell me, “unless you can be challenged and stand your ground on something, then it’s simply an idea, not an opinion.”
He would say, “You care about the environment? Great. What are you going to DO about it?”
“You believe the homeless should be helped? OK, how will YOU make a difference?”
Through his constant challenges, I learned to always ask myself, what can I do about it?
As an adult, dad would call me on the phone weekly, but he wouldn’t ask the usual things that other dads ask their daughters. He’d say, “how’s your job? What are you doing to improve your performance? What sales did you close? How much did you make on commission?”
One day, in a rather down mood, I asked him, “dad, why don’t you ever ask how I am or how I feel?”
He replied, “because I know who you are. I guess I always see a greater potential in you than you sometimes see in yourself.”
My stepmom used to tell me that I was the exception to how my dad saw women. After all, he was the product of an earlier generation.
But, she was right.
My dad always told me, “you can be President of the United States if you want to be.”
He really did always see a greater potential in me.
My father passed away 20 years ago.
I can still hear his voice in my head, telling me not to limit myself to the heights, and that I can soar.
I believe that he’s still coaching me and cheering me on. To do more. To be more.
Today, I often think about all the times he challenged me. I wonder what would have become of me without those experiences. Would I have given up on my dreams? Would I have been complacent? How many things would I have not done?
My dad was a workaholic who wasn’t around that much, but he showed up for me more than I could have ever asked for.
How did your parents shape your life?
Did you maybe have a difficult or complicated relationship that you turned out to learn a lot from?
Think about those questions. And then, I implore you – if they’re still with you today, share with them how they’ve shaped your life
I never had the chance to tell my father how grateful I am for the impact he has had on my life. If I’m being honest, I didn’t realize until I was an adult, and then I just never said it when I could have.
Don’t miss your chance.
Let your parents know that you know they showed up for you in their own way.
Answers for Elders with Suzanne Newman
Empowering Seniors and their Families through the Daunting Journey of Aging
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