Monday, November 3, 2008
PRODUCTION NOTES: Alexandre and Lawrence
Lawrence has been showing me how hard it is to be the primary caregiver in a gay relationship. He's been lucky enough to find a very accommodating assisted living place for Alexandre. The previous ones he looked at gave them both anxiety about merely holding Alexandre's hand or feeding him, i.e. being judged and getting a different level of care. Some of the places they looked at were simply not welcoming. But their relationship here is not only understood by the staff, Lawrence's well being is important to them as well.
Personally, I've been made aware how important it is to have a primary caregiver- someone who is solely your advocate- no-one else's. And if you think it's something that money can fix, think again. Your best hope for not dieing early and unhappy seems to be having your primary caregiver be that person who cares most deeply for you, loves you, and will go to bat for you unconditionally.
Straight people have it much easier because many more of them have children, long-term relationships or are not estranged from families because of judgements against their sexuality.
What do LGBT folks do all our lives? We learn to turn to our friends for help or simply pay someone to care for us.
But when it comes to the person who will be my primary caregiver in old age, MY advocate and protector- forget it. I now can't imagine even my best friend or anyone I could pay any amount of $$$$ advocating for me the daily, hourly way Lawrence does for Alexandre.
Lawrence is the guy who makes sure there's fresh water in ALEXANDRE's water pitcher, that ALEXANDRE's television is working properly. God forbid, if ALEXANDRE were ever neglected or abused Lawrence would be marching down the hall to the director's office. But most importantly ALEXANDRE has someone who makes life worth living.
Could a best friend or anyone you could pay maintain the same day-to-day devotion?
I happen to be reading a book on the final days of the billionaire Howard Hughes. He was surrounded by five full-time caregivers but died horribly: dehydrated, malnourished and weighing 90 lbs. You can't help but wonder if his fate would have been different had any of those people in the room been a loved one.