FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN
/ Living Legacies
Lately, I have been writing a lot about loss:
two weeks ago, about the second anniversary of the
loss of a young lady who was extremely important to
me, from an accident involving a distracted driver;
last week about my friend’s recent suicide; and
today, it would be quite easy to continue the
conversation about loss since this marks the 20th
anniversary of my dad’s passing. Yet, I do not want
to talk about loss or sadness today. There is enough
of that to go around for all of us.
Today, I want to talk about the impact Dad still
has on me and my family. Although I miss him each
and every day, I am comforted by still being able to
hear his voice in my head. Sometimes, when I hear
myself repeat words he had said to me so many times
during my life, I smile. I am pleasantly
surprised at the times when I look in the mirror and
recognize his features on my own face. I think he
would be proud of his granddaughters, both of whom
are excelling as people and in their chosen fields.
And, although he passed three years before the first
issue of Today’s Caregiver magazine rolled off the
presses, I know he would be delighted to see that
his family is working together in a business that
came about due to watching how lovingly my mom cared
for him and my grandparents into their final days.
Twenty years ago tonight, Dad was in the hospital
due to complications from his advanced multiple
myeloma. That evening was particularly rough
as he slipped in and out of consciousness, talking
of events and times long past as if he were living
through them once again. My mom and I grew concerned
as he began to shake rapidly, but were repeatedly
assured that “this was normal” by the nurse on duty
as she dodged our requests to call his doctor.
She would come in and give him a shot, ignoring our
concerns, and then return to her desk down the hall.
Shortly after one of these perfunctory medical
administrations, his shaking grew uncontrollable and
the nurse suddenly ran back into his room with a
crash team on her heels. Before long, she returned
to tell us that Dad had not survived their efforts
to revive him.
Our family review of that evening convinced us of
two things. One, that in any medical expert’s
opinion, no one could have expected any different
outcome in his case. Two, while the outcome could
not have been changed, I truly believe that if our
concerns had been taken more seriously, his last
evening would have been more comfortable for him and
more compassionate for us.
Many years have gone by since that evening in a
South Florida hospital and I know that there is now
a greater understanding within the healthcare system
of the valuable role that family caregivers play on
their loved one’s healthcare team. Yet, more can
still be done by all. We caregivers need to learn to
exercise our rights as our loved one’s advocates,
and the professional members of their care team must
learn to take advantage of our expertise in caring
for our loved ones who are also their patients.
our efforts are playing any role in the increased
support for family caregivers within the healthcare
system, I know that Dad would consider that to also
be a great legacy.
Robert M. Barg
May 12, 1929 – October 4, 1991
Actually, knowing how outgoing Dad was, he would
have loved to hear stories about caring for your own
My caring for Dad story