Shirley Z


About Shirley

Shirley was a client of ours for over 2 years.  She had a daughter in NYC, and a son in Connecticut.  They were both very busy with their families and careers.  Shirley lived in an apartment by herself, with her cat.  She was diabetic and decided that she did not need to be compliant with any “rules” that were specifically for diabetics.  Shirley would have the caregivers do her food shopping, and on the list would always be ice cream.  Chocolate candy also made its way into Shirley’s home.  How – I still do not know – but she always offered me a piece whenever I came by to dispense her medications.

Shirley was a professional photographer.  She was famous enough, that everyone, one way or another, has seen her work on cards, or come across one of her photos in public.  She loved to photograph nature, and when her kids were growing up, she always took candid pictures of them, which of course they hated then, but now they have great photos of their childhood years.  Shirley used a walker and would have the caregiver walk down with her to photograph a sunset or drive her to the photo shop to get film.  

She hated to visit the doctor.  We would always remind her about her doctor’s appointments, even schedule the appointments FOR her, and she would magically “forget”.  We ended up calling the doctor many times to let them know that Shirley would be late, and we begged the office staff to wait for her.  They always did!  If she needed a refill or new prescription, she was very lucky that the pharmacist was very fond of her, and always had everything delivered, or we would pick it up to expedite things.

Shirley was not very good about remembering to take her medications.  Yes, when the caregiver was there, she was watched while she took her pills, but after that it was a crapshoot.  We tried many different ways to remind her, calling after hours, having family members call, set up alarm systems, putting notes everywhere in her tiny apartment, and even setting up a system that when she feeds the cat, she takes her meds.  Nothing worked.  Nothing.  Shirley used to say to me, “What are you trying to do, keep me alive?” (And of course – we were!)  With her toothless grin, I would say, Shirl, can you please put your teeth in? and we would both laugh!!!


Even thought Shirley was in her 80’s, she always found a way to talk about fashion, romance, and any other current events that came to mind.  She always was more concerned about whoever came to see her, then she was to herself.  She was warm and lively woman.

When Shirley passed, I was lucky enough to be invited to her memorial service.  To hear her children and grandchildren talk about growing up with her, it made my day!  At the service, her photographs were displayed, and we could pick one and keep it for ourselves.  I have mine, and I have Shirley’s memory with me every day, and it makes me so proud that I was on her care team.