Janet's Jargon

Fun lifestyles, charitable acts, great fiction, author support, Patrick and Grace Mysteries, Keith clan trilogy,

Saturday, February 18, 2012

When life imitates fiction--or vice versa

Of all of my characters, Patrick O'Malley and Grace Johnson have to be my favorites. Many readers relate to them. I get a lot of people who ask me "Why did you pattern Grace after me?" These are people I have never met and I have no idea who they are or where they live. I usually just reply, "Grace is not really anybody, but she is a little bit of all of us."

Grace (a recent elderly widow) met her dilemma when her kids decided she shouldn't be alone in New York City, so they set the plans in motion to move her to a nursing home. In desperation, and not ready to hang it up for a long time, she went to her friend Patrick (a retired cop) to ask for his help. He took her to the Haven of Rest Homeless Shelter, where they not only accepted her, but loved her and hired her on staff.

We all know there are people who need to be in a nursing home, but it seems like sometimes it is just a cop-out of the kids taking care of their parents. Like they say, everything in life comes full circle. Parents who cared for children have now become parents who must be cared for by those same children. It is a humbling experience for "the old folks." All too often, it is easier to "stick them someplace" and thus salve their conscience. It used to be that families looked out for each other. It was quite customary for a grandma or a grandpa to live with one of their children and their families. My good friend, Martha Garvin (from Musical Memories) had a visit from her son, my opera buddy Brad, on their Thanksgiving program. I always enjoy Martha's program as she takes us down Memory Lane through a lot of the old hymns we grew up hearing and loving. That particular program, however, I think is my favorite. Martha and Brad reminisced about Grandma Reed living with them for somewhere around 15 years. Oh, the fun of listening to them talk about the special bond between Grandma and the entire family (including her son-in-law, George Garvin, Martha's husband). There is one difference in today's world which does explain some of it, I suppose. Back then most mothers were home being homemakers. Today's economy makes it necessary for many women to be out working, as it takes a 2-income life to survive just to pay the monthly bills. That would leave Grandma or Grandpa home alone, and many times that is an impossible situation.

What does really irk me is when it is obviously a way of escape. When I lived in Grand Forks ND, there was a woman in the nursing home whose son was a doctor at the adjoining clinic. He would go several times a week to see his patients, but he almost never went to see his mother. Sounds to me like he took the "Hypocritic Oath" instead of the "Hypocratic Oath."

As I read the Grand Forks Herald this morning, which I do almost every day to let me know what is happening "back home," I was met with this article: Mother is Evicted.  Yes, that figures into a big part of the plot of my Patrick and Grace Mysteries. Since St. Patrick's Day is coming up before too long, I'd like to invite you to read the first book in the series, In St. Patrick's Custody, which centers around St. Patrick's Day. As Patrick says, "Everybody is at least a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day."

I will soon post a teaser about the upcoming (4th) Patrick and Grace Mystery, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I miss not having my kids close enough that they can visit once in a while, but when you think about the fact that they might think my lifestyle is a bit off-the-wall (I am "retired," which basically means that I keep so busy that I got tired, then I got re-tired, then got re-tired yet again to the point that I've lost track of how many times I've re-tired) they might be tempted to put me away, and like Grace, I'm nowhere near being ready to slow down.

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