A person whose task it is to care for another, usually for children, the elderly or for chronically ill.

This word will be increasingly in the public consciousness as the legions of baby boomers face the onrushing future of caring for their elderly parents. And The Baby Boomers are getting older, too.

This word entered the English language long after the time of our own elderly, and most prolific, noder -- Webster 1913.

At 5 minutes till 1, Dad yells, "It's 12:55, what is that?"

"Dad, it's an hour past midnight," I respond.

"Oh . . ."

At 3:15 he yells, "What time it be?"

"3:15, Dad, still nighttime," I answer.

At 4:00, I'm so soundly asleep he hobbles over and grabs my toe. "Is it time yet?" he asks.

"No, Dad, it's only 4 a.m.," I say. "Look outside. See, it's dark. That means it's still bedtime."

"Not always!" he yells back at me.

At 4:30 Dad is trying to dress again.

"Dad, it's only 4:30."

"Well ... so?"

"It's still nighttime, Dad."

He's clearly aggravated now, not understanding how it can still be night.

"I'm not gonna be around much longer!" he retorts.

At 4:45 he's up and trying to dress again. He is still not comprehending time's slow passage. Is it time for another mini-mental assessment?

He is up again at 5 a.m. I take the shirt out of his hands and direct him back to bed.

"Well, what time is church, anyway?" he asks.

For the 6th or 7th time I tell him today is Wednesday, not Sunday. "I go to work today, we don't go to church this morning."

"OH! Why didn't you say so!" he exclaims.

At 6:45 it's time to get up and dress Dad for breakfast and for me to get ready for work.

And now, he sleeps . . .

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