WBUR in Boston and I write for WBUR's Cognoscenti Page. I especially love On Point with Tom Ashbrook -- I have been known to have "parking lot moments" when I sit in my car, radio on, engine running in my office building parking lot, just to finish listening to a topic Tom and one of his guests are discussing. Tom's inquisitive questions and gentle yet focused interviewing style have kept me company on many mornings. Like many, I was saddened to hear that he was taking an immediate leave of absence to care for his wife who is very ill. Through this intentional choice of following his heart and his compassion, Tom has become a teacher to the rest of us that it is OK to say that family caregiving is a priority and to step away, albeit temporarily, from the demands of work. Tom posted a poignant and powerful letter to explain his decision yesterday, and I am sure I am not alone in feeling gratitude that he chose to share an
explanation of this difficult time with such grace, love and compassion.
Tom, as a male, has also taken bold move by stepping into the caregiving role. Statistics show that the vast majority of family caregivers during chronic illness and end of life are women. Often these women are attempting to work outside the home and be family caregivers at the same time, because of a lack of sick time or leaves of absence in their workplace. Tom's willingness to shine light on the need for families to have the ability take time away from their paid work for the well-being of their family is a teachable moment for all of us. Tom Ashbrook has been able to make this compassionate choice for himself, his wife and family is because he has been granted a leave of absence from his employer. As the Massachusetts election results rolled in on Wednesday morning and ballot question 4 (earned sick time) was approved by voters, it made me think of Tom and his family and gave me hope that another family facing end of life issues would now also be more able to make a similar compassionate choice without financial ruin.
To live in a compassionate society, we must be compassionate beings. Thank you to Tom Ashbrook, his wife Danielle, and their family for demonstrating what grace, love, and caregiving choices look like. I wish them peace, hope, and grace today and in the days ahead, and I will be welcome Tom back into my radio-listening life when he is ready to return.