How Much Does An Average One Year Old Cat Weigh Letters – Building Connection

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Letters – Building Connection

The letters, usually addressed to my children, arrived without warning and often consisted of a few sentences referring to an attached newspaper article. “Papa thought of you when he read this. I love you, Grandma and Dad.”

The article could be about Boy Scouts or baseball or any other topic that caught my dad’s attention. I was bothered by the notes, sure the short messages were meant as inquiries into my substandard parenting. After all, he had been my biggest critic. I carried her voice with me as much as I carried my brown hair and blue eyes. I resented him and the self-loathing and insecurity he so thoughtlessly bestowed upon me. Every gesture, every comment seeped through a fog of distrust I put on to protect myself from further destruction.

We were locked in a game of cat and mouse that left me shivering in the corner. However, change is inevitable, even for the cat and mouse. In this case the change was kind.

The change came into focus with the arrival of a box. A box full of letters; letters written over generations; letters written by family members who went through an intricate maze of relationships to sit with me here on my living room floor among the written feelings that surround me. Love letters, thank you notes, confessions, apologies, updates, announcements, congratulations and lots of newspaper clippings spilled out of the box. I instinctively clung to them drawn to the remnants of my clan. I felt the weight and texture of the papers. I inhaled the scents and marveled at the art of calligraphy. I smiled at drawings and pictures of my childhood and my siblings. I loved our heartfelt love notes: “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you more than the world! You’re the best mom.” Love, Jenny, 6 years old.

I felt connected and suddenly understood the importance and purpose of the notes I had resented for so long. Every time a note arrived it was my father’s way of contacting me. We had no words to share. Now I was almost totally deaf and the past still clouded our ability to sit comfortably with each other, but the notes and articles said to me, “I’m thinking of you. Maybe this will help you, or maybe you’ll find the topic interesting. , but mostly, I just know, I’m thinking of you.” Also inherent in the notes was the possibility that I or my children could respond; we didn’t, because I couldn’t recognize the hand that was reaching out to me.

When I refocused I understood that it was time to participate in this chain of generational communication. It was time to honor and celebrate this ritual of connection. The first note was written by my daughter. My son would send the following. I haven’t sent one yet, but I suspect the time will come soon.

Our society is aging. Millions will pass into old age over the next twenty years. At 50, I’m among that grizzled tribe. A smaller group of younger people will be left to care for us, to understand us and relate to us. Each of us shares the responsibility to support one another during this massive demographic transition that is testing our economy, health systems, workforce and families like never before. Staying connected and engaged is crucial as we cross this new frontier.

My professional life is dedicated to creating systems that support connections for people; connections to benefits, information, community resources and support services. The letters reminded me that our most powerful connection is between us.

• 42% of caregivers live less than twenty minutes from the care recipient. A quarter of care recipients (24%) live with the caregiver and another fifth (19%) live less than an hour away from the care recipient. The remaining 15% of caregivers live more than an hour away from the care recipient. – Source: National Alliance for Caregiving.

• Long-distance caregivers live an average of 480 miles from the people they care for. – Source: Long Distance Caregiver Project – Alzheimer’s Association LA & Riverside, Los Angeles, CA.

• Between the years 2000 – 2015, the number of long-distance carers will double. – Source: Long Distance Caregiver Project – Alzheimer’s Association LA & Riverside, Los Angeles, CA.

• The National Institute on Aging estimates that there are 7 million Americans who are long-distance caregivers.

• Annual expenses incurred by long-distance caregivers came to about $8,728. – Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, Evercare, in partnership with United Health Group 2010.

• Many long distance caregivers had to cut back on work hours, take more time off, take on additional debt and cut back on personal expenses. The problem that is growing in magnitude as time passes. Source: National Alliance for Caregiving, Evercare, in partnership with United Health Group 2010.

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