On her own, but not alone
文章来源:未知 文章作者:meng 发布时间:2010-04-12 01:04 字体: [ ]  进入论坛

Marjorie Baer used to joke about her retirement1 plans. She wasn't married and had no kids, but she didn't intend to be alone—she and all her single friends would move into a fictional2(虚构的,小说的) home she called Casa de Biddies. Instead, Baer developed terminal brain cancer when she was 52. But just as she'd hoped, her friends and family provided her with love and care to the end.

Baer's friends Lee Ballance and Mary Selkirk were walking their dog one afternoon in July 2006 when they saw an ambulance in front of her house. Baer had had a seizure3 and collapsed4. Ballance, a physician, hopped5 in(上车) his car and followed the ambulance to the hospital to be at Baer's side while doctors tried to figure out what was going on. When they did, the news wasn't good: She had glioblastoma multiforme(多形性成胶质细胞瘤) , a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer.

Ballance was only the first of Baer's friends who became her unofficial caregivers. Until her brother Phil Baer put his marriage and work in Los Angeles on hold to care for his sister during her final weeks, they cobbled(铺) together a system to watch over their friend and allow her to keep some of the privacy and independence she cherished.

Baer's good friend Ruth Henrich took the lead. That seemed natural: Henrich, then 58, and Baer both worked in publishing and lived in the same duplex(占两层楼的公寓套房) . Though busy in her job as an associate managing editor at salon6.com, Henrich took Baer to doctors' appointments and helped her deal with all the aspects of life that were becoming increasingly mysterious to her—answering machines, TV controls, and even phone numbers. After Henrich sent out an e-mail request, a group of volunteers signed up to ferry Baer back and forth7 to radiation therapy. Others in Baer's circle offered up particular talents: A nurse friend helped Baer figure out how to get what she was due from Social Security and her disability insurance; an attorney pal8(朋友,伙伴) helped Baer with her will; a buddy9 who was an accountant took over her bills when she could no longer manage them. "There was this odd sense that the right person always showed up," says Ballance.

Not that it was easy. "I had to know at all times who was going to be there and anticipate what Marjorie would need next, so it was always on my mind," says Henrich. "It was something I wanted to do, but it also never went away." Still, their jury-rigged arrangement worked remarkably10 well. Even as Baer lost the ability to read and write and engage in conversation over the course of the year, she was able to continue to live on her own, walk to the market, take the subway to painting classes, and even fly to Iowa by herself to visit her brother Tom and his family.

"She was a generous person," says another friend, Elizabeth Whipple, "and it came back to her in truckloads."

Unmarried women are one of the fastest-growing demographic(人口统计学的) groups in America, and increasing numbers of men are remaining single, too; experts are concerned about how caregiving will be managed for both groups as they age. If the experience of Baer's friends is a guide, the Internet will play a role. It's already making it possible to create communities of caregivers who may have only one thing in common: the person who needs their help. On personal "care pages" set up through services such as Lotsa Helping11 Hands, friends and family members can post a list of tasks that need to be done, volunteer to do them, and keep updated on the person's condition. As Baer's cancer progressed, for example, her friends set up a page on Yahoo! where people could sign up to deliver meals or do errands(差事,使命) .

Eventually, their help wasn't enough. One morning, a year after Baer's diagnosis12, Henrich checked in before work and found Baer on the floor. Though she wore a panic button on a chain around her neck, she hadn't used it. "I don't know how long she had been there," Henrich says.

That was when Baer's brother Phil stepped in. He and Tom had taken turns earlier making trips to Berkeley to care for their sister; now Phil, who lived in Los Angeles, took leave from his job as head of air-conditioning and heating at CBS Studio Center—and from his understanding wife, Joyce—to care for Baer full-time13. "There was just no question in my mind that I would do anything I could, including switch places with Marjorie," he says. "It made me realize how much I loved her."

For the next few weeks, Phil looked after her during the day. He oversaw14 the nighttime caregivers and consulted with the hospice(旅客招待所,收容所) workers who assisted with medical issues and helped him prepare for Baer's death. But even then, his sister's loyal friends were irreplaceable, he says, providing both practical and emotional sustenance15(生计,食物) .

Several of Baer's friends were there when she died. "We were all trying to help ease her passing," says Whipple. "Phil put his hands on her chest, and she let go."

Catherine Fox, one of the friends who was present when Baer died, was deeply affected16. "It was so comforting to know that if you're willing to ask for help, the generosity17 of family and friends can be phenomenal(异常的,显著的) . It makes me feel secure and hopeful to know that help is there when you need it."


1 retirement TWoxH     
  • She wanted to enjoy her retirement without being beset by financial worries.她想享受退休生活而不必为金钱担忧。
  • I have to put everything away for my retirement.我必须把一切都积蓄起来以便退休后用。
2 fictional ckEx0     
  • The names of the shops are entirely fictional.那些商店的名字完全是虚构的。
  • The two authors represent the opposite poles of fictional genius.这两位作者代表了天才小说家两个极端。
3 seizure FsSyO     
  • The seizure of contraband is made by customs.那些走私品是被海关没收的。
  • The courts ordered the seizure of all her property.法院下令查封她所有的财产。
4 collapsed cwWzSG     
  • Jack collapsed in agony on the floor. 杰克十分痛苦地瘫倒在地板上。
  • The roof collapsed under the weight of snow. 房顶在雪的重压下突然坍塌下来。
5 hopped 91b136feb9c3ae690a1c2672986faa1c     
跳上[下]( hop的过去式和过去分词 ); 单足蹦跳; 齐足(或双足)跳行; 摘葎草花
  • He hopped onto a car and wanted to drive to town. 他跳上汽车想开向市区。
  • He hopped into a car and drove to town. 他跳进汽车,向市区开去。
6 salon VjTz2Z     
  • Do you go to the hairdresser or beauty salon more than twice a week?你每周去美容院或美容沙龙多过两次吗?
  • You can hear a lot of dirt at a salon.你在沙龙上会听到很多流言蜚语。
7 forth Hzdz2     
  • The wind moved the trees gently back and forth.风吹得树轻轻地来回摇晃。
  • He gave forth a series of works in rapid succession.他很快连续发表了一系列的作品。
8 pal j4Fz4     
  • He is a pal of mine.他是我的一个朋友。
  • Listen,pal,I don't want you talking to my sister any more.听着,小子,我不让你再和我妹妹说话了。
9 buddy 3xGz0E     
  • Calm down,buddy.What's the trouble?压压气,老兄。有什么麻烦吗?
  • Get out of my way,buddy!别挡道了,你这家伙!
10 remarkably EkPzTW     
  • I thought she was remarkably restrained in the circumstances. 我认为她在那种情况下非常克制。
  • He made a remarkably swift recovery. 他康复得相当快。
11 helping 2rGzDc     
  • The poor children regularly pony up for a second helping of my hamburger. 那些可怜的孩子们总是要求我把我的汉堡包再给他们一份。
  • By doing this, they may at times be helping to restore competition. 这样一来, 他在某些时候,有助于竞争的加强。
12 diagnosis GvPxC     
  • His symptoms gave no obvious pointer to a possible diagnosis.他的症状无法作出明确的诊断。
  • The engineer made a complete diagnosis of the bridge's collapse.工程师对桥的倒塌做一次彻底的调查分析。
13 full-time SsBz42     
  • A full-time job may be too much for her.全天工作她恐怕吃不消。
  • I don't know how she copes with looking after her family and doing a full-time job.既要照顾家庭又要全天工作,我不知道她是如何对付的。
14 oversaw 1175bee226edb4f0a38466d02f3baa27     
v.监督,监视( oversee的过去式 )
  • He will go down as the president who oversaw two historic transitions. 他将作为见证了巴西两次历史性转变的总统,安然引退。 来自互联网
  • Dixon oversaw the project as creative director of Design Research Studio. 狄克逊监督项目的创意总监设计研究工作室。 来自互联网
15 sustenance mriw0     
  • We derive our sustenance from the land.我们从土地获取食物。
  • The urban homeless are often in desperate need of sustenance.城市里无家可归的人极其需要食物来维持生命。
16 affected TzUzg0     
  • She showed an affected interest in our subject.她假装对我们的课题感到兴趣。
  • His manners are affected.他的态度不自然。
17 generosity Jf8zS     
  • We should match their generosity with our own.我们应该像他们一样慷慨大方。
  • We adore them for their generosity.我们钦佩他们的慷慨。
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