An Update ...the conversation continues.
By Alexandria Dunn
A few years ago, I shared the story of my family’s 2012 conversation around our Thanksgiving table (see below). Now, almost 10 years after the discussion of who would care for James as my parents age and can no longer do all they do began, I have a few additional observations and tips to share.
Since that time, the discussions around James and his future have flowed naturally and the plans related to it have evolved. Communication is more important than ever in working together to provide the best life for James. It is KEY for parents to talk about the future with their children and other family members to give them an idea of what they are thinking and importantly, including them in building relationships with all of the people who are important in their child's life.
While I will always be Alex Nadworny, this will be my first Thanksgiving as Alex Dunn. My husband Tim and I plan to celebrate with each of our families; mine earlier in the day and Tim’s later in the afternoon.
Everyone who knows my family knows the close relationship my brother Ben and I each have with James. It has been wonderful for me, my family and my friends to see the easy and loving relationship Tim, or “T” as James calls him, has with James. When James sees me now, he is also looking for T and when he is around Ben, he expects to see his fiancee, Madison.
As an added bonus, our families get along very well. Tim is from a large family and when we all get together, they are so accepting and comfortable with James he is just one of the gang.
Covid brought changes for James that impacted our entire family. Like many adults, James attended a community-based day program that was suspended due to Covid and like many other families, we have found it nearly impossible to hire qualified people to help us care for James. Many parents have been sidelined by the lack of quality child care and this is often stated as a major contributor to the “Big Quit” or “Great Resignation” that is impacting the U.S. labor market. My Mom, Susan, has always been James' primary caregiver but now her job became 24/7 with only our family providing spotty respite help. I began getting much more involved in planning for James, working with my Mom and trying to help by attending DDS meetings and getting to know the folks at the agencies who play an important part in James' life.
This Thanksgiving I am grateful we are able to gather in good health, reflect on all of the changes in our lives and carry on the conversation.The holidays have a way of bringing the future into focus in a very real way; if the atmosphere is right, and you know what you want to say, respectfully start talking! Here are some tips to begin the conversation.
Read the predecessor story, A Sibling's Story: Thanksgiving, 2012 ⭐