Paula Span - When the Time Comes
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Meet the Families

In the summer of 2008, video journalist Dave Mayers and I revisited some of the families who had shared their stories with me. Most lent us photos, some taken recently, some from long ago. Dave edited them into this slideshow:

We also spent time with:

Marla Shachtman and her mother, Doris Levy. Marla, who lives in my town of Montclair, New Jersey, has been the primary caregiver for Mrs. Levy, who has dementia from multiple sclerosis and lives in a nearby nursing home.

Ilze Earner and her mother, Milda Betins. Ilze helped her parents relocate from New Jersey when her father’s dementia and her mother’s physical limitations made it too difficult for them to continue living on their own. Mr. Betins lived in a nursing facility, where his family could visit regularly, until his death in 2011 at age 93. Mrs. Betins moved into a cottage adjoining the Earners’ home in rural Columbia County, New York, and lived with her family until she died, also at 93, in 2013.

My father, Murray Span, remained in his apartment in Vineland, New Jersey, until he was 88, then moved into a continuing care retirement community in West Orange, New Jersey, to be closer to my sister and me. He told me, during one of our regular Saturday lunches out, that he was content there. But loss is part of writing about very old people: Murray Span died in December, 2012, after just a few days’ illness. He was 90.

  When the Time Comes -Paula Span