This is an excerpt from the article The Agony of Putting Your Life on Hold to Care for Your Parents written by Jaeah Lee for the New York Times.
Randi Schofield tried her best to not dwell on all the ways her life changed, on the pieces of herself that got lost in the shuffle. She was a 34-year-old single mother who, not long ago, was in the throes of a big life transition. She had left her full-time job of eight years as a personal bailiff to a local judge. She was burned out, ready for something new.
She pulled $30,000 from her retirement savings and was planning to give herself all of 2022 to expand the small catering business she had always dreamed about. This would be the year she bet on herself. It was risky, but she had a plan. She applied for part-time, remote office jobs so she could keep up with the bills, maybe save up for a summer vacation with her two daughters, Alicia, then 13, and Amira, who was 15. She felt guilty for having spent so much of her time working at the courthouse or on-call by her laptop. She started going to bed early and updated her budget every two weeks. She got the girls ready to begin the spring semester feeling like a new person. Then, in late January 2022, she received the news that medics were pulling her father out of his car.
Randi’s father, Keith Schofield, then 61, had been driving home from the gym after a snowstorm when a car in the next lane lost control and sent Keith’s Chevy over a Cleveland freeway overpass. The collision splintered the bone in his left thigh down to his knee; three days later, a metal rod held the broken pieces together. Until his leg recovered from the surgery, he would not be able to walk without assistance.
In hindsight, there were warning signs that her father’s health could upend Randi’s life — the heart episodes that landed him in the emergency room almost every year; the tray full of open medicine bottles that he swore he took on time. But he was also youthful and spirited, and it was easy to believe that everything was fine, that he was fine and that if she were to take care of him some day, it would be occasional and in a distant future where she had more of life figured out. She didn’t see this day coming the way it did, so abruptly and so soon.