Caregiving really amplifies your Life. Boy howdy.
While I am in recovery for my own personal choices earlier in life, I think I am also in recovery for the work I did as a caregiver. In the years of working in Dad’s lifestyle, I learned more about myself. Since the end of that period, I have learned more about him and my relationships.
Such an odd paradox. When taking care of Dad, I focused on practical matters. I was good at that. Only at that time, it was on a tremendously larger scale than I had known. Decisions carried greater consequences and were made in compressed time.
In some ways, caregiving at that time resembled med school. Figure out what needed to be done first. Do it. Move on to the next in priority. No thoughts or reflections on what was happening. (A luxury .) Just get to the task at hand.
Amazing endurance I achieved back then. Never slowing down. Never wavering. Until the day a sibling walked up and said they were taking over Dad’s care. Papers were signed and that was that.
I considered for a brief moment that I should fight for control of the situation but that wisdom/energy that had been driving me up to that point just said “Here are the keys. Good luck.” I hadn’t realized that I didn’t have anything left. It took somebody else to point out that I was empty.
A cluster of funerals of family members that occurred around the time of his passing, all play prominent parts in my memory. Each is distinct yet I see how each contributes to the restructuring of who I am.
Not the whiny crying sort of memories. Loss is inevitable and we all need to get up to speed with that concept. No, this was encountering and engaging real life for the first time. No pretty flowers and speeches. Just loss and with it, maturity.
Taking a grounded view of the personalities and relationships of those heady days of caregiving, I now see things for what they were, not for what I want them to be.
So with Dad, I now look at him with all of the filters off. Asking questions of people who knew him long ago and hearing the answers not as a son, but as someone who loved him. Warts and all.
I still find it a bit unnerving to hear myself say something that sounds so clearly like Dad. And when family comment that I remind them so much of Grandpa. I really feel that ghost in the room.
But I am not my father. I have learned from him, by both the things he did and the things he didn’t do.
Most of all, I work very hard at not letting the losses in life frighten me. I don’t want to be like him. Which I am beginning to suspect, may have been his intention for me all along.
Funny how caregiving is the gift that just keeps on giving. We think it is just about the physical care and emotional roller coaster of caring for loved ones. With their passing comes a whole new package of personal work that pulls up all the many things we ignored during the times of providing care.
Some of the issues are easy to work through, while others are landmines. This is a short story of one of the latter. Read the rest of this entry »
Dementia, as a plot device for television or film, has never quite lived up to the reality. Usually played for sobbing sympathy or just a tragic underscore to a character, the story line usually leaves out the stumbling’s of the caregivers and their associated confused introduction to their new roles. Rarely do we get to see the conflicted person make their way through to becoming the care-giving person they will become.
That is until now. Read the rest of this entry »
No matter how long you have been a caregiver, having a Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA) from your loved one is one of the most powerful instruments in your bag of caregiving tools. This little piece of paper can mean the difference between getting needed care for the person you care for or (seemingly) endless hours arguing with Read the rest of this entry »
Caregiving is as much an emotional roller-coaster for things about the caregiver as it is to the caregiving itself. Not all crises come from the circumstances of the people for whom we care. Sometimes our own emotional baggage decides to unpack and stay for a while. Read the rest of this entry »
Intention is what we bring to a task or role – whether we know what we are getting into or not.
Our strength as a caregivers to get up each day and take care of everything one can possibly do is astounding! The personal costs can sometimes be great (loss of time, resources, and even Health) but we persevere. But how do we do it? Read the rest of this entry »
Medical care is invariable part and parcel of a caregiver’s life. And what a strange world is modern healthcare, right? You want to do right by the person you are caring for by making sure they are receiving appropriate care from their doctors and hospitals but you feel unqualified because your medical background is limited or nonexistent. Not to worry. You can handle this. Read the rest of this entry »