General Anthropology Division
Group Flash Presentation Session
Rummaging through my parents’ drawers looking for documents necessary for their taxes I found a stash of my father’s old sketchbooks from the late 70s through the 80s in which he played with ideas for a new painting series. I love these sketchbooks and have taken to looking through them with him on recent visits. I delight in the creative energy pulsing through them, and to try and decipher his scribbled notes, and he seems to appreciate it too, although he quickly tires. Much of the care needed by those in extreme old age consists of helping them wash, dress, and go to the bathroom. What kinds of care do they need from their children, from their partners, and from professional care providers? In his 80s, my father regretted never having been recognized by a gallery or a museum despite having a devoted circle of supports among friends and family. With his increasing physical decrepitude and his short-term memory decline, however, his concerns, and his delights, are different now than they were just a few years ago. Does the recognition he yearned for so much of his life not matter any more? Does my interest in his work bring him back to his earlier anxieties? In this presentations I explore how care is negotiated in complicated relationships among caregivers with shifting needs.