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Writing at my mother's table

No one expected my parents to survive into old age, nor for me to be the one to care for them.  For my entire adult life, our conflicts had been successfully buried under a three thousand mile buffer. But when duty called, I packed their household and ailing bodies and settled them across the street from me in Olympia, Washington. I anticipated six months of changing light bulbs and filling prescriptions before making funeral arrangements.

Mom Dad 2004 300x225
Mom and Dad, 2004

Through the grace of necessity, we started fresh and put one another’s needs first, with occasional lapses of crankiness and resentment. Seeing them through my middle aged eyes, the stories of their pasts revealed surprising insights and led me to acceptance of who they’d become. We stitched together our emotional and philosophical chasms, eventually providing a tight seam of familial trust and comfort. A decade later we had muddled through every aspect of caregiving, marking time around my mother’s table with tears of joy and sorrow.


I grew up in Elyria, Ohio surrounded by relatives and friends, then spent a few unforgettable years in Cumberland, Maryland, before moving to Olympia, Washington. I retired from dental hygiene after a long and satisfying career in private practice and teaching. I have enjoyed gardening, crafts, genealogy, reading, pets and visitors on the same parcel of paradise since 1977. My two closest cohorts of forty years live within walking distance and collaborate on daily life. I live with my spouse, Katy Murray, a clinical social worker with a specialty in EMDR therapy. (What’s that? Look it up at


Chip Jonquil 300x225
Chip and Jonquil
Clockwise left Dianna Trish Katy Carolyn Chris
Clockwise left: Dianna, Trish, Katy,
Carolyn, and Chris
Katy, Trish, and Mica, 2013