I've always thought that truth was stranger than fiction but I just learned of a situation that makes my head spin ... and gives me an idea for a piece of fiction ... Imagine this ...
A very old, very Catholic woman raised a large family of children in relative poverty in one of our poorest provinces. For many years she has been in the care of one of her daughters. Now that she is at the end of her life, demented and bed-ridden, her situation is deplorable.
The daughter could not stand living in the same house with her because of her mother's dementia so she moved next door and set up a baby monitor between the two houses. Other family members have tried to persuade the care giver to get some respite care for the mother in an institution that is better equipped to handle elderly bedridden patients, but she is adamant. No mother of hers will end up in a home.
The situation has deteriorated to the point where the old woman is in terrible pain from suppurating bedsores and an allergic reaction to the renovation. Oh yes ... did I mention that the caregiver, in order to find an income for her unemployed son, got a government grant for renovations to the old woman's house? One of the family members has forced that renovation to stop and that has created a situation in which the caregiver now refuses to speak to her siblings.
Why don't the siblings force the issue of an old age home? The caregiving sister has legal guardianship. Probably the only way to effect a change would be for family members to put the matter in the hands of the authorities, and who wants to do that to a sister?
The caregiver is feeling martyred. The family members are feeling helpless. The old woman at the centre of all this is enduring the most horrible end of a life.
If she were a child, no one would feel any compunction about calling Children's Aid.
If she were a dog or cat living in such conditions, the Humane Society would be contacted immediately.
But she is a ninety-three year old woman whose plight is being hidden away in a bedroom by an entire family whom she raised.
I wish I knew how to do something to help. The family doctor visits by the way ... and has not forced the issue ...
Someone asked me the other day what I feared most. This is it: being old and sick and alone.