Grandpa Foty

  • March 27, 2013
  • #8063

At what age do you stop caring for your family? For Grandpa Foty, there was no age—nor any other excuse. Listen to the story of this elderly caregiver and his love for his wife.

Grandpa Foty

Hi, this is Joni Eareckson Tada with a few words about caregiving.

Actually, these are not my words; these are the words of Grandpa Foty when he was 87 years old and caring for his wife of 62 years. Grandpa and Grandma Foty had 24 grandchildren back then — a large and very supportive family! But when Grandma began to suffer from dementia, Grandpa insisted that he wanted to be her primary caregiver. So there in their large and spacious home, Grandpa Foty took on the non-stop support of his precious wife — and he never complained. In fact, when he was 87 and asked about his caregiving, he thought for a moment, and then quietly replied. This is what he wrote:

"When I tire of cooking or trying to decide what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner, I remember that she had to make those decisions for a family of nine, and I am only doing it for two. When I feel sorry for myself for having to change messy diapers, I am reminded how she faithfully did the same thing for seven children. I am just doing it for one. My wife and I have been together for 62 years. All of those years she cooked for me. As of now, since I am 87 years old, I've only a short time, so as the chief cook around the house now, I will never catch up."

Those words were written back in 2002, and in 2011, Grandpa Foty died at the age of 95. And in all that time, he cared for Grandma whose dementia only worsened; he cared for her 13 years at that point (with encouragement from the rest of the family). He finally placed her in a nursing home for the last 18 months of her life and during those months; he went to see her every day — sometimes twice a day. He’d help with routines, just like he did around the house. He’d often time his visits during lunch or dinner so that he could help feed his wife. Many times she did not even know who he was, but other times she did. And when his visits would end, he occasionally wrestled with feelings of guilt about leaving his wife in that facility, but it had simply become too difficult; it just wasn’t realistic. And it wasn’t long before she passed away … a sad day for her husband.

I wonder, though, if Grandpa Foty knew what an example, what a testimony, he was being to so many other couples looking on. I don’t think he took time to notice. But the people who knew him, who watched him, they certainly noticed — and so did the Lord. The Bible tells us that serving others, serving the least of the brethren, serving those who are weak and vulnerable … caregiving like that is accruing an eternal weight of glory that far outweighs the pain and inconvenience of helping someone in sickness and in health, for better or worse. And, oh, what glory to God such love and devotion gives the Father.

Grandpa and Grandma Foty never had a chance to attend one of our Family Retreats, but they would have been welcomed — because our Joni and Friends’ Family Retreats are not just for kids with special needs; they’re for anyone in the family with a disability. Registrations are coming in and our 25 Family Retreats across the US, they’re filling up fast! Do you know a special needs family who could benefit? A husband who is caregiving for his wife? A single mother, her special needs child? Tell them to go on-line and visit my radio page at and watch a wonderful video that shows all the highlights, plus while you’re there, you can ask for a Family Retreat brochure and we’ll send it out right away. And remember: keep giving the care of God to those in need.

© Joni and Friends


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