~ Guest Writer, ELIN HAMPTON ~
My father called me a helicopter daughter.
Okay, it wasn’t to my face, but word gets around. Helicopter-anything is never a positive thing. I took such pride in launching my three kids into the world without the sin of over-parenting. (They might have an entirely different take on the experience, but we’ll go with my fantasy.) How could my elderly dad call me that negative trendy label? How did he even know it? Had I been totally delusional to think I ran his life from three thousand miles away and he was in awe that I did?
After a cry, I had a long talk with myself. I had to face facts. My world totally revolved around my dad (after Mom passed away, I realized that Dad didn’t have any life skills) and my efforts were not entirely… treasured. Flying cross-country every other week to do the bookkeeping, figure out taxes, file insurance, senior-proof his apartment (so that he didn’t keep ending up in the hospital), cook, shop, and hire the best people to care for him… well, none of this was exactly appreciated. I was being called names behind my back! Something had to change.
It was obvious that my resentment was reaching a peak, the morning I met a friend for coffee and she asked me how my father was doing.
Once I started talking, I couldn’t stop. I think there may have been tears there too.
My friend smiled knowingly. (She has street smarts). “You need to outsource,” she told me. “What-source?” That was an entirely new concept for me. I asked questions. I did research. And I took back my life.
I learned about the wonderful people who call themselves “geriatric care managers.”
I call them lifesavers, saints… oxygen.
Full disclosure, these concierge angels are not cheap, but neither are bi-monthly round trip tickets to New York. My fairy godmother is named Sheila. Sheila now does almost everything I did, but (let’s be honest) better.
I no longer wake up to ten frantic texts every morning (because of the time difference). Sheila’s got it all under control. She not only knows a guy, she knows every guy, from a traveling notary, to a traveling podiatrist, x-ray technician, therapist, plastic surgeon (!?) and PT…. all covered by Dad’s Medicare. She’s resourceful, even-tempered and ridiculously cheerful. If I had to, I would foreclose my house to keep Sheila happy.
Outsourcing is a wonderful thing. In my case, I’m sleeping again, my husband got his wife back and my kids got their mom back. Best of all, now when I visit Dad, we can actually enjoy our time together.
He got his daughter back and she’s happily not hovering anymore.
Elin Hampton is a produced and published screenwriter, lyricist, and playwright. Some of the television shows she’s most proud of having written include Mad About You, Dream On, Rugrats, Pinky and The Brain, The Jackie Thomas Show, The Wild Thornberrys and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA and performs with The Nine O’Clock Players. This is her first blog post, as she’s still evolving.
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