I am glad that this show was repeated this morning as I had missed it when first aired last year. Like many who have posted comments in this space, I wish that I had had heard Ms. Gross's wise words back in 1996 when my mother's life (and mine) were changed after she suffered a series of strokes. Like Ms. Gross, I am an aging, single, and childless baby-boomer. My father had died (also from stroke) when I was still a child, and my mother and I, always very close, had grown even closer after his decease. One of the most important points which Ms. Gross made during her conversation with Krista Tippett was that many of us in America are almost unaware of the elderly, thereby placing us in a state of ignorance about what aging entails. As my mother and I lived together until she became ill and I had to place her in a nursing home (where, after 6 years at the age of 89, she died), I witnessed her gradual decline. Stroke crippled her, diminished her cognitively, and, the worst, left her aphasic. Being an only child in such circumstances is both difficult but in some ways easy as well in that while I had to do and feel everything, I was also spared some of the divisive situations that can often arise between siblings when trying to navigate the unchartered waters of caring for an aging or ill parent. This part of life is an exam for which you cannot prepare. We should be grateful, however, for people like Jane Gross who are the teachers among us imparting valuable lessons.
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