I raised three children and when it came time for me to be the caregiver for my parents I discovered that caring for my parents was one of the hardest jobs I had ever had. Many of my friends were concerned for me when my parent's moved in with Frank and I. They all knew how busy Frank and I were and wondered how we would find the time to take care of my parents. Well...when they first moved in with us they were mobile. My dad had prostate cancer and my mom worked the third shift at Wal-mart and she just needed someone to be with my dad at night. It would be for six weeks. Six weeks turned into six years as I watched my father battle prostate cancer a second time, a fierce bought with pneumonia three times, two hospital stays, and lung cancer, which eventually took his life. I watched as my mom went through the stages of dementia. I knew I had no choice. I was an only child and they were my parents. They raised me....and it was my turn to care for them. Someone once asked me, how do you find time to do all these things. I didn’t find time...I took time the time. I also took time to be quiet and listen to God. It was in that quiet and stillness that I found strength to move on. It is important that caregivers find time to feed themselves. If they don't tend to their own needs too....they will find themselves declining.....a healthy caregiver is the best caregiver. My goal was to make my parents last days wonderful ones. I did not always succeed because I eventually had to make some hard choices that angered my mom. My parents took a trip and became a Silver Alert for 72 hours. It was 72 hours NO ONE should have to go through.....EVER! I was amazed at all the people who came to help search. People I had never met....and there they were....flying the area, driving miles, providing food, making calls. It was because of this event that the end for them was not in my home....but step one was an assisted living facility, because they needed 24 hour care, which moved into respite care, and then a nursing home. It broke my heart to see them digress. Cancer ate at my father and while they were in the assisted living facility Frank told me I had to tell my father it was ok to go home. The problem was...it wasn't ok. God and I wrestled a long time on this one. One day....when he was at his weakest....I gave him permission to go. When we got home I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. That night my brother (who died when he was 5) visited me and told me it was his turn and he would take care of daddy. They moved my dad to respite care two days later, he was there a week, and the day they moved him to the Dadeville Nursing Home he went home to be with Jesus.....I learned a lot as a caregiver. I learned that God is in control. Dealing with my mom with dementia at the death of my dad was heartbreaking....her mind was almost gone. When she ended up at Adam's Nursing Home she knew she had a husband....but she thought he was there working....and eventually she did not mention him at all until her time had come to join him. As a caregiver I realized....one day I may need one so I needed to show my children how to do it. It wasn't easy....honestly....I struggled with raw nerves, frustration, resentment....guilt. I wanted anyone to say...."Let me know if there's something I can do to help"....but they didn't. Frank and I would snatch dates when my parent's pastor, or members of their church, came to visit...but eventually those subsided. We took a few short trips by finding someone to sit with them....or check on them. My friend, Mary was great at this. She loved them and they loved her. I struggled with hurt from the family because they didn't come. Once my mom was alone in the nursing home they didn't come because she didn't know them. She didn't know ME all the times I went either....but she knew she had company and that someone cared enough to stop by. I had three angels that I could count on....my angel Melinda, my angel Angelia and her precious sweet angel mom. My mom always loved telling me about their visits. They always left me sweet notes in my mom's guest book....it made my heart smile. During the time of being a caregiver for my parents I felt a loss of identity, a loss of independence, and isolation from people. My mom felt that same way for a while I am sure. I also felt afraid, I felt an obligation (I was their ONLY child), and I felt guilt. It was the guilt that almost did me in.....until one day the nurse at the nursing home told me what a good job I did. To caregivers out there now....or gonna be caregivers....I have a suggestion for you....if you find yourself, or a friend, in this role....tell them....I see you, I see the load that is weighing you down. I hurt for you! The other thing to do...."I am at the store....can I pick up something for you?" When I was in the middle of the caregiver role it was just something I did because they were my parents and I loved them....I cried a lot. Now with 4 years under my belt after the fact. I have grown, I can smile, and I can laugh at some of the memories.
To Joey, With Love....WINNER!
6 months ago