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Caring for our parents: Planning, understanding and love required


co-aging-1.jpgMy grandfather, William Curtis, knew daily hardships, privation and difficulty as a farmer in the Ozarks of Missouri, near Fort Leonard Wood. The community surrounding this army post came to be called little Korea by the soldiers training there and the residents of the Ozarks. Its bitter winters with regular severe storms of snow, ice, and below freezing temperatures, and summers with extreme humidity,earned that nickname.

Grandfather, lean, lanky, tall and bony, had muscles of steel from haying. plowing, chopping wood and milking cows daily. He worked diligently from sunrise to sunset. He had no electricity or indoor plumbing, and water for the household was carried in buckets from the spring at the bottom of the hill, up about 200 feet to the house. Though he had a good wife, Maggie, and eight children, he himself was constantly at work with farm chores, sometimes helped by hiring out a neighbor for 50 cents a day.

Grandfather’s medical care was given a low priority in his available resources. The farm produced only a meager income . For every ear of corn grown on his 40 acres, there were 10 rocks to be cleared. The land actually produced more useless rocks than corn. There was no such thing as “rock sou” in the Ozarks. The years of survival and stress took a toll on his health and at age 70 he was diagnosed with pneumonia; this disease without medication caused untold suffering and hardship. It caused the death of my grandfather, a man I respected and loved. For two years he took the role of father when I lived with them during the first two years of my life. In a way, I was his son and became his child as my single mother worked in a shoe factory in a town 25 miles away. «Read the rest of this article»

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