Patty Andrews' Passing: A Lesson in Why You Should Always Forgive

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The recent passing of Patty Andrews, 94, marks the death of the final member of the epic singing trio, the Andrews Sisters.

Along with her two siblings, LaVerne and Maxene, Patty sang and danced to tunes that helped define the essence of the GI Generation during World War II.

Known for such hits as; "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," "I Can Dream, Can't I," and "I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time," the Andrews sisters spent much of the early 1940s performing shows for deployed servicemen and persuading people on the home front to buy war bonds.

The wild success of the sisters makes it hard to argue with the theory of divine intervention.

But, when the stage lights dimmed, it was the three sisters' feuding that became infamous.

Fueled by two of the same fires that have driven sibling rivalries since time began—money and miscommunication—the Andrews Sisters began to drift apart in the 1940s when the death of their parents caused friction over each sister's share of their inheritance.

In 1951, Patty joined a separate singing group without telling her sisters. The trio re-united and broke up multiple times over the next two decades until LaVerne, the eldest, passed away from cancer in 1967.

Patty and Maxene maintained a frosty distance that even Maxene's heart attack in 1982 could not permanently repair, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Maxene died in 1995, with the sisters having never fully reconciled.

"The Andrews Sisters only had one big fight. Really," Patty Andrews divulged during a 1985 interview with Merv Griffin, "it started in 1937 and it's still going!"

The soap opera-esque nature of the Andrews Sisters' 40-year feud serves as a cautionary tale for caregivers dealing with the difficult task of managing sibling relationships while caring for an elderly parent.

The following are four real questions that constantly show up in one form or another on the AgingCare community forum:

Whether your pre-existing family dynamics are good or bad, one of the realities of caring for an aging parent is that disagreements among siblings and other family members will occur.

Arguments will break out and hurtful things will be said and done that cannot be rescinded.

Forgiveness is the ultimate weapon in a caregiver's arsenal when it comes to these issues. Forgiving a family member for today's indiscretions may pave the way for future reconciliation.

Even if a cease-fire isn't in the future, pardoning the behavior of others is the best way to help you move on.

As veteran caregiver and AgingCare member, NancyH, puts it, "At some point—if you want to avoid becoming so depressed that you have to start taking medication to compensate for it—you'll have to forgive your siblings for being such a disappointment to you. Reach out to the friends that you've let slide away, hire some help and, if need be, move on."

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51 Comments

HELLO:

I AM AN ONLY CHILD. AS THE CAREGIVER OF MOM, BURIED DAD TWO YEARS AGO, SHE CAN BE VERY ABUSIVE VERBALLY AND EMOTIONALLY.
WHILE FORGIVENESS IS IMPORTANT, I THINK THAT SITUATIONS LIKE THIS CAUSE FOR SEPERATION. IT IS EXTREMELY UNHEALTHY WHEN YOU ARE THE PRIMARY CAREGIVER WITHOUT CONSITENT RESPITE AND RELIEF.
THERE SHOULD BE A BILL ENACTED FOR CAREGIVERS WHO DO THIS WORK IN MANAGED GERIATRIC HEALTH CARE. THE CAREGIVER SHOULD NOT HAVE TO DIE ON THE INSIDE TO ASSIST WITH THE CAREGIVING OF A PERSON.
BLESSINGS,
DPRAYS
People use this word, "forgiveness," in a very sloppy way that is insulting to many of us.
To forgive is not the same thing as to overlook.
One extends forgiveness to a repentant person who strives not to repeat the behavior.
One extends forgiveness to a person who, because of physical or emotional disability, cannot help the way s/he is.
Otherwise, forgiveness diminishes the magnitude of the offense against the offended.
It is reasonable to encourage caregivers to forgive where forgiveness is appropriate; it is hateful to tell caregivers to "forgive" when their abusers -- or selfish siblings -- in right body and/or mind make offensive choices.
My Mother has always said "It isn't the patient that dies, it is the caregiver." I have seen that happen, sometimes, too.