This I Believe
That growing up the words care giver were never necessary to use when identifying the person who was always there to help your grandparents or your disabled child. Care givers were and still are the family members who spend countless hours doing everything they possible can for those in their family who are unable to do much for themselves.
From the age of three, I can remember that my grandmother was always part of my life and always lived with us. She was the person who cooked my breakfast, braided my hair, made my lunch for school and reminded me to do all my homework when I came home for school. When my mother was in her fifties and my father had died, my mother went back to college to get a degree so she could get a teaching job to pay the bills and remain living in her home. It was my grandmother who was still there to cook her breakfast, make her lunch, help her find her glasses and car keys and remind her to do her homework before supper. When my grandmother was 93, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. After that, it was my mother who made my grandmother’s breakfast, helped her find her glasses and drover her to her doctor’s appointments. There was never any suggestion that my grandmother would go to nursing home. The word Hospice wasn’t part of the vocabulary. Now I am 54, the same age that my mother was when she was widowed. Now I am the care giver for my mother and for my son with Autism. I am the one who fixes the breakfast, helps my son do his school work and I go to the nursing home to feed my mother supper. I usually use an eye dropper to feed her. At age 92, in the final late stage of dementia, my mother has forgotten how to chew and how to swallow. She has not forgotten what it means to care for some one and to give love. For me, care and giving is about love. It saddens me to see that all around, the meaning of care giving has changed. It is hard to find people who can be employed as care givers. With one in one hundred and fifty children being diagnosed with Autism, and many of the baby boomers facing Alzheimer’s down the path and so many wounded military personnel coming home, who will be there to be the care givers for our future? Who will teach people the art and the patience and the comfort that comes with care giving?
This may not be the life that I would have chosen, but there is so much about my life that has meaning because it connects me in such an important way with two of the people in my life that mean so much. My mother and grandmother were my role models when it came to care giving but role models are also very much out of fashion these days. I hope that I am wrong about this, but it’s truly what I believe.
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