Shortly after Dad died, my mother, sister and I found ourselves traveling to Maine this summer where we frequently vacationed as a family. My dad loved the rugged coast line and the insanely good lobsters from Barnacle Billy's.
Chronicling my father's 10-year battle with dementia has been at the heart of my own caregiving journey and I write frequently about how it's a winding road with unexpected twists, turns, peaks and valleys.
Little did I know this trip would find me contemplating another's journey, and how it made me reexamine my own.
It was a beautiful summer day, one that made the ice cream vendors and beachwear stores dotted along the road seem like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. We arrived at the local beach by noon and already the cars were lined up down the road. I was immediately annoyed that my mom did not have a handicapped parking sticker with her. Her walking had deteriorated in recent years and getting her onto the beach would be a challenge itself, never mind a hike from the car. But the annoyance faded as I heard the crash of the waves and smelled the intoxicating aroma of salt air mixed with hamburgers grilling at a roadside stand.
When I approached the parking lot, I saw the bold red letters glaring at me, "Lot is full." Oh well, plan B, I thought. Drop Mom and my sister off at the beach, than find a parking space in town and hike a mile back. And then there was the parking attendant, a seemingly innocuous woman who, much to my surprise, greeted me with a bark.
"The lot is full. You need to turn back." she snapped.
"I understand." I replied. "But my mother's walking is quite limited. Can I just drop her off?"
"I can't let you do that," the attendant responded. "It's against the rules."
I tried to explain that my mother would not be able to walk a distance from a remote space, but the attendant was unmoved. Now, I'll admit at this point I was more than a little perturbed, but what happened next is still playing out in my mind.
To read more of this post from Jody Gastfriend, LICSW, read her blog at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jody-gastfriend/parking-attendants-and-other-life-challenges_b_3787098.html