Letter: Kudos to Barsanti in Barry case

By on June 11, 2009

Bravo to Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti for his valiant efforts to pursue justice in the shamefully sad and tragically premature death of 84-year-old Mary Barry, who died while utterly dependent upon her two middle-aged daughters for care.

This case must demand justice for Mary Barry’s sake, while setting clear ethical and legal responsibilities for caregivers—particularly those who benefit from their charge’s finances and resources.

From personal experience, I know first-hand the tremendous responsibility and precious experience of caring for a parent who can no longer care for themselves because of severe health issues. Without any assistance from siblings, the benefit of free housing or use of a parent’s financial resources that Mary Barry’s two daughters had, I managed to single-handedly care for my mother after she had a series of debilitating strokes. It may not have been the vocation I would have chosen, but circumstances dictated I take on the beautiful mission of caring for an aging parent, severely disabled because of health problems.

Despite the fact I needed to work two part-time jobs to support my mother and myself so I would still be able to meet her personal and physical needs, my mother never had a single bed sore. She was given the dignity all souls deserve. There were many difficult days, but never did my mother suffer physically or emotionally because of the extensive effort required to care for her.

As a former caregiver, it is inconceivable that both of Mary Barry’s daughters repeatedly failed to notice bed sores so extensive as to have spread to the bone. Caring for a disabled person necessitates constant vigilance in the normal course of daily hygiene and personal care. Just as in caring for a defenseless infant, caregivers of the disabled cannot help but observe physical and emotional changes during bathing, clothing, changing sheets, and feeding regimens. Indeed, it is a tremendous responsibility, which should either be a labor of love or, as a last resort, one delegated to qualified professionals.

For Mary Barry’s last days to be tormented as she lay saturated in feces and urine on a bed infested with ants, her daughters had to have been far worse than merely negligent. With more options than ever for outside assistance, in-home care for the elderly or nursing facilities, there are no excuses for the abysmal care Jill and Julie Barry provided their mother while living in her home and using her financial resources as they waited to collect an inheritance.

For the sake of Mary Barry and to enlighten people of the sacred responsibility they have to their parents as they age, I sincerely hope Barsanti is successful in prosecuting Jill and Julie Barry to the fullest extent possible under the law.

It’s time people realized “family values” don’t only apply to our children’s care and well-being.

Geraldine Zaha
St. Charles