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Caring for Your Parents

Chapter 16: Thelma and Maria [5:12]

"I'm the glue."

Thelma is overworked and overwhelmed. No one person can do it all. She takes steps to care for herself.

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Transcript  

Chapter 16: Thelma & Maria “I'm the glue.”

THELMA:  

I started doing this when Jessica was about a year old.  The first Christmas I had about five houses and a little tree and I just added on.  It's been around for about seventeen years now.  It's just a nice part of us, I enjoy it.  

NARRATOR:

BUT THIS PARTICULAR CHRISTMAS HAS THELMA FEELING EVEN MORE SENTIMENTAL THAN USUAL.  

THELMA:  

Christmas is coming. I wonder if it's gonna be the last one I'm gonna have... 

NARRATOR:

AND ADDING TO THE PRESSURE OF THIS HOLIDAY SEASON...THELMA IS WORKING FOURTEEN DAYS IN A ROW... 

THELMA:  

Hi guys...what is this?  Dear Lord, the place is a nightmare Miss Sarah, what's going on?  Hi mom.  

THELMA (SUBTITLE) (CONT'D):

Do you want me to make papas for a snack? Do you have to go to the bathroom? 

MARIA (SUBTITLE):

Yes I want to. 

THELMA (SUBTITLE):

Do you have to go to the bathroom? 

Sarah, you wouldn't want to go down to the basement and get me some towels would you? 

SARAH:  

Could you wait until I'm done with my project, all I need is one more. 

THELMA:  

Yep.  You have a minute, okay?

MARIA (SUBTITLE):

You don't have to wash me. Your father washed me when we got married. 

THELMA:  

You're a funny lady... 

DR. MICHAEL FINE:  

This is a 36 hour day for the care taker.  It's more than one person can reasonably expect to do by themselves. So if it's--  If it's one daughter, um, then I'm--  and the parent is particularly dependent, I'm more likely to say, "Let's talk about other kinds of living arrangements, 'cause this is gonna kill you. You may keep your mom alive, but you'll die in the process. And what good is that?"

THELMA:  

Alright Sarah, Momma's going to go to Ground Round with Auntie Laurie and Auntie Debbie.  

NARRATOR:

ONCE IN A WHILE THELMA TAKES THE NIGHT OFF WITH HER SISTERS-IN-LAW... 

THELMA (SUBTITLE):

Take your pills and drink your papinhas. 

Okay, Sarah? I already spoke to you. You're all set?  

Bye sweetheart.  Bye munchkins.  Ciao...

SARAH’S FRIEND:

Bye Thelma. 

THELMA:  

Bye! 

NARRATOR:

BUT EVEN ON THIS GIRL'S NIGHT OUT...THELMA'S MOM IS FRONT AND CENTER... 

SISTER-IN-LAW #1:

How are you doing? 

THELMA:  

I'm okay. Yeah. Tired. 

SISTER-IN-LAW #2:

...Oh, that's why she couldn't get in touch with you... 

SISTER-IN-LAW #1:

...Oh, she tried calling? 

THELMA:  

Hello.  Hi Anna, what's up...

NARRATOR:

IT'S ONE OF THE COMMUNITY NURSES  WHO CARE FOR THELMA'S MOM

THELMA:  

Okay honey. Bye, bye. Have a good weekend honey, bye. Bye.

That was my Anna, my afternoon CNA, she can't come tomorrow, her car broke down, won't be ready until Monday morning.  

SISTER-IN-LAW #2:

What do you do? 

SISTER-IN-LAW #1:

So how's mom? 

THELMA:  

Mom's doing okay, she was actually in pretty good spirits when I got home today. 

SISTER-IN-LAW #2:

Does she sleep. 

THELMA:  

Yeah until about 3 o'clock in the morning.  She thinks it's 7 o'clock in the morning.  She says, "Thelma I want breakfast."  "Mom, it's 3 o'clock in the morning. "  Oh, I thought it was 7 o'clock ." I said, "Nah, it's 3 o'clock."  So I go to her room, I make her a glass of milk , warm glass of milk, put her back to bed and then I go back to my bed, but you know, it's like interrupted.

When something happens to me, I think everything will fall apart because I'm the glue that keeps it all together.  Keeps the kids going, keeps the husband going, keeps the mother going, keeps the mother-in-law going.  I don't know, I'm the little glue in the center and everybody kind of sticks to me.  So once that glue no longer sticks, it will create a problem.  That's why I'm going to the doctor's today to find out why I couldn't breath when I got up today.  I could breath but I couldn't catch my breath and it scared me cause I'm like and I couldn't.  It was scarey, I scared myself. And then I started getting all like heart palpitations 'cause I started getting over-anxiety, you know, over excited.

DR. MICHAEL FINE:  

I can tell you lots of stories about, you know, people who, uh, were taking care of a relative and sort of were in denial about their own illness. Um, and then finally, their illness got to the point where they collapsed. And then the whole thing comes down. And, you know, we'll find that we have to put two people in the hospital at once.