Of all of my siblings, my sister, Cyndie, is the compassionate one. I think most everyone in my family would agree. I’ve always thought this about my sister, even when we shared a room with each other and knocked heads because we were as different as night and day. She was the wild one. I was the goody-two-shoes.
But Cyndie has the biggest heart.
And it has never been more evident than in the last three years. In 2015, when my mother was ill and ultimately dying, Cyndie returned home from India to help care for her and say goodbye.
After my mother passed away, Cyndie said she would stay to help care for my stepfather, Tom, who has Alzheimer’s. She had three successful businesses in India, but left them behind to care for him, five days a week, 24-hours a day. My sister, Tami and her husband take care of Tom on weekends.
I appreciate the care both of my sisters have given Tom, because I am a long-distance co-guardian. (I live in Dallas. Tom lives in Tulsa.) Tami is the other co-guardian. Cyndie has been invaluable in keeping me informed on everything, from Tom’s doctor’s appointments, to his good days and bad days, to maintenance issues with the house, to caretakers. In other words, she has been my eyes and ears in Tulsa. I couldn’t have done it without her.
Cyndie has gone beyond “babysitting” Tom. She has CARED for him, trying to find activities he can do, sitting and talking with him–though he often cannot finish a complete sentence anymore–making sure he bathes and brushes his teeth. Each morning, she places his clothes out, and throughout the day, she helps him to the bathroom.
Tom has declined significantly in the last six months, and it has gotten more physically and emotionally challenging for her to care for him, even with the help of caretakers.
So, we stand at a fork in the road, where we must decide what’s best for his health and safety. Because we do not all agree, our family has suffered conflict that has torn us apart. Anyone who has ever dealt with such a decision knows it’s heart-wrenching, with many things to consider.
Some have vilified us for our opinion that Tom would be safest in a memory center, most without even knowing us. I hope those who know Cyndie know she is no villain. And for those who do not know her, you’ll just have to trust her older sister–that would be me, the one with whom she once shared a room where they often knocked heads. Cyndie has the most compassionate of hearts, especially as she’s cared for Tom.