Letters to Suzanna

Letters to Children, Others

Letters to Becky & Cliff

Digitizing Mother


Letters to Suzanna Ware O'Donnell   Letters to Children, Grandchildren, Others   Letters to Becky & Cliff Woodhouse   Digitizing Mother   Home

May 31, 1985

"When 'at bay' or cornered by the family en masse -- I keep thinking of Landseer's famous painting 'The Stag at Bay'-- with the pack of stag hounds at his throat."

I discovered this unsent letter with others in my mother's papers years after her death. Even now it hurts to read her letters of this period, even though there was a happy ending, or at least a relatively happy reprieve of several years, to Gwyn's total loss of independence. Instead of having to move into a separate apartment with her son Peter and his wife Becky, as they and Gwyn's ex-husband were planning, she came to our farm in Virginia.

After about nine months Hugh and I were able to negotiate with Peter to have her return to her home in Hogansville with additional assistance from paid caregivers. This fraught arrangement continued for a few more years.

Peter lived 40 miles away from Gwyn in Carrollton, had a demanding job, and was often out of the country. He was solely responsible for managing our mother's care and helpers, her finances, home repair and all the other needs of a household. Becky also helped but she herself was frequently unwell and even sometimes in the hospital. These difficult logistics plus Gwyn's deteriorating mental and physical state finally made her move to a nursing home inevitable. It was a blessing of sorts that by then she was no longer aware of her surroundings.

Though Gwyn can no longer balance her checkbook or precisely parse her finances, her knowledge of the history of art and posh New York hotel decor is spot on.

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