Catholic Free Press

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  • May
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Keeping Mother close

Posted By May 25, 2012 | 1:18 pm | Featured Article #4
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By Mairgread Gray
CFP Correspondent

Diane Boover, 64, had just returned with her mother, Claire Girouard, 92, from Mrs. Girouard’s annual appointment with the doctor. Mrs. Girouard was soon napping and the house was still.
“I love caring for her. I enjoy the time. Never would I have had such peace and quiet,” she said. Mrs. Boover said she can sit quietly much of the time; reads extensively; does research and writes. She has even used the time to compose meditations.
Blind and nearly deaf, Mrs. Girouard has been living in Worcester with her daughter and son-in-law Michael Boover for the past four and a half years.
“A great thing is that a lot of her family comes and goes all the time,” Mrs. Boover said.
Mrs. Girouard had eight children. The middle child died five or six years ago, and it was pretty tough for her said Mrs. Boover. Mrs. Girouard also has 18 grandchildren, nine great grandchildren, two great great grandchildren with twins on the way in August. (The Boovers have four children and two grandchildren.)
Mr. Boover hosts reading and meditation groups in their home and they share potluck suppers afterward. His mother-in-law enjoys these suppers.
But sometimes family can not do all of the caring for an elderly parent and sometimes they need a break.
Summit ElderCare sends a lot of help to the Boovers. The program, sponsored by Fallon Community Health Plan, gives Mrs. Boover seven hours a week in help in caring for the personal needs of her mother and help with cleaning.  Summit also will send someone to stay with her mother while Mrs. Boover and her husband have some respite.
“That’s pretty nice. It is a great program,” she said.
She has sisters who also help out.
One of Mrs. Boover’s sisters is caring for a sick husband, and they share their trials and tribulations. “We understand what each of us is going through,” she said.
When Mrs. Girouard had a heart attack two years ago, the experience was such that they decided if she got sick again, they would not go to the hospital – they would “let it be.”
Mrs. Boover described what it was like to come to terms with the decision.
“We got up and left the hospital. She did not want to stay,” Mrs. Boover recalled. Mrs. Girouard was in the emergency room, but was never admitted to the hospital.  While in the ER, her heart stopped and the doctors said there was nothing they could do.
“She was attached to all sorts of things, and then her heart started up, on its own,” Mrs. Boover explained.
When she awakened, Mrs. Girouard asked, “Am I still here?”  When told yes, she remarked, “Shucks!”
Mrs. Boover said her mother was waiting to die, and was wondering what was taking so long. She said that Mrs. Girouard asked: “What does God want me to do before I can go?”
“My mother has had so many times when she nearly died. I understand her frustration.  If she walks, it is very slow,” she said.
Mrs. Girouard has said life is not meaningful. It is not good after 90.
“Mom has her moments – dying, rising, dying, rising.  She feels like it’s (death) not going to happen,” Mrs. Boover said.
But the lesson God is teaching may not be for the mother but the daughter.
“When I was growing up, I was probably the testiest child.  As I tested her, she was always there. I kind of knew I would be the one to take care of her. I know I wanted to repay all her longtime dedication. I knew I had to repay her patience,” Mrs. Boover said.
“My mother often says, ‘I never thought I’d see Diane be so patient.’”

Just across the street

By Mairgread Gray
CFP Correspondent

The long drive from Shrewsbury to Pepperell was one done in love.
Maryanna Hiester and her husband Edwin were living in Shrewsbury and driving to Pepperell often to help her elderly parents; her mother, Antoinette Dube, who is 93, and her father, Noel Albert Dube.
Two years ago, her dad was ailing. The Hiesters continued to drive back and forth to Pepperell. But God had a plan to make the trip shorter.
“We need a house in Pepperell, across the street from Mom and Dad,” Mrs. Hiester opined.  “I asked God. I felt the need to move to Pepperell.  Two days later, the house across the street from Mom and Dad went on the market.  Dad was still living. Now I could tell him Mom would not be alone.  He was so happy.”
Her father passed away in May 2010, and the Hiesters passed the papers for the house in June.  They moved in, in July.  Mrs. Hiester is very happy with the way things turned out.
“I wanted to be here. Last year, Mom could no longer drive.  Because I was already here, we could go shopping together,” she said.  “Mom is very independent.”
On Easter, Mrs. Dube had a small stroke. Mrs. Hiester’s sister, Florida Cole, was visiting from California and extended her visit to help her mother. And, of course, Mrs. Cole is a big help to her sister.
Mrs. Hiester said she will stay overnight in her mother’s house when her sister returns to California.
Mrs. Hiester, who is almost 65, is semi-retired; her husband is fully retired.  They have seven children and nine grandchildren.  Her mother, Mrs. Dube, had 10 children, (one son died in 1970 in a car accident), 24 grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren.
“I want to thank my (only) sister for helping out now for a few months,” Mrs. Hiester said.
“My mother doesn’t want to leave her home and she can stay there because I am there,” Mrs. Hiester said.
“God is so good. I said if you want me to move, let a house come on sale across the street from my mother.  It had to be across the street. I knew God was going to provide,” Mrs. Hiester said.
Mrs. Dube can walk over to her daughter’s for a meal and have companionship. They go to Mass together every morning.
“Mom glows when telling people her daughter moved across the street from her,” Mrs. Hiester said.

Part of the parish family

By Mairgread Gray
CFP Correspondent

When Father Ernest P. Allega was assigned to be pastor of St. Thomas-A-Becket Church in South Barre, his mother, Anna Allega, came with him. That was in 2000, he was 50 and she was 85.
Before she came to the rectory, Mrs. Allega lived in a small apartment in Milford.  She was living independently, but Father Allega began noticing lapses in memory with her, but did not really pay attention to it then.  She asked to come to South Barre, and since there was a spare bedroom, it was arranged.
Mrs. Allega had three children, the eldest died, leaving Father Allega, and his younger brother, who had a son, Mrs. Allega’s only grandchild, to care for her.
“I didn’t become aware that technically it was prohibited for any lay person to live in the rectory. I expressed my heartfelt gratitude to Bishop McManus in allowing me to help Mother here. And, the kindness of the parishioners – they seemed to enjoy my mother’s company,” Father Allega said.
Anna Allega passed away in July 2011 at the age of 97.
While his mother lived in the rectory, Father Allega said he enjoyed doing the grocery shopping and cooking.  He did have a housekeeper who came in once a week.  He did the cleaning and the laundry.
“I found it was part of my everyday living.  Other people in the parish had responsibilities to parents or children. I was no different. The care of the parish was not taking away from my mother’s care, and my mother’s care was not taking away from the care of the parish,” Father Allega said.
Mrs. Allega interacted with the staff and their families.  She attended every parish event until she could no longer do so.
During the first few years Father Allega didn’t have outside help but in 2009 he began to reach out to Adult Day Care in Ware where his mother would go two or three times a week – late morning to mid-afternoon. He also had the services of a visiting homemakers who cared for Mrs. Allega’s personal needs. This was done through Elder Services of Worcester.  Later, he also had recourse to help from Barre Health Care.
Father Allega said he engaged all of these services for most of the last year his mother was with him.
But her condition worsened and included increased agitation. She had vascular dementia.
“It was unmistakable she needed appropriate care.  She needed more care than I was able to give. I knew I had to make a normal and appropriate decision.  She was in fine physical condition but …,” Rev. Allega said.
Finally, when she no longer could be left alone, she went to the Medway Country Manor nursing home in Medway.
“I feel gratitude to Bishop McManus and the parishioners for their kindnesses help, support, and friendship,” Father Allega said.