Sandra C.
Wareham, MA

My mom is a 92-year-old Catholic widow of 25 years, with seven children. Until recently, despite being blind and hard of hearing, she pretty much took care of herself. She showered, prepared her own meals, took her medicines as directed and lived independently with just the occasional help from a homemaker and her children.

Last year, she had a health issue and needed assistance until she could re-gain her strength. I inquired at my place of employment about taking family medical leave and was told it was possible but without pay. My siblings and I live week to week on our pay and cannot go without some type of income. We tried a nursing home for some temporary assistance. Maybe it was an exception, but within two days we saw our mother unattended to and one day found her fallen over in bed choking on her breakfast with no attendee in sight. We discharged her and brought her home. The burden of caring for her fell on her oldest daughter, who works the least hours. My mom rebounded and became independent again.

My mom did well until this year when her kidneys had problems, caused most likely from years of taking heart and other medications. She needed help again. At about the same time my company was restructuring and offered a voluntary early retirement package to their employees over 55 years old. Let me tell you, I am not ready mentally or able financially to retire but after much consideration, I took the retirement package to be available to help my mom through this recovery period. For me this is a risky move. Will I find another job with a good company? Get paid the same? If not will I fall behind on bills and lose my home.

If paid family and medical leave insurance was available in Massachusetts, my siblings and I could have taken advantage of it. I feel the care my mom receives from us will add years to her life. I felt I was fortunate that my company offered an early retirement package but I am also taking a big risk walking away from a great company with every benefit you could think of, but not paid family and medical leave. I hope the Legislature will pass paid leave into law.

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