Hug for Jim
WORDPRESS DAILY PROMPT FOR 10/16/2013:
CAREGIVERS DESERVE COMMEMORATION
October 16 is officially declared Person X Day. The WordPress October 16, 2013, prompt asks participants to pick Person X to honor, and write about that person.
I watched as my 74-year-old mother carried a wheelchair from her house, opened the trunk to her car, and struggled to pack the good-sized wheelchair into the small space.
At 53 years old I would be considered younger and stronger, more able to do the task. Furthermore, it would be a good gesture to help.
But all I did was watch.
I had sufficient reason for just watching. My Mother knew what she was doing and how to manipulate the wheelchair into the trunk.
Furthermore, I was an 18 hour drive from home. I needed to be in good shape to continue on, and heavy lifting would jeopardize that fitness.
I think about my Mother often, about her situation. Her husband Hugh, victim of a disabling disease, was over 6 foot tall. She was just 5 foot tall, and was his caretaker.
They had moved to Presque Isle, Maine, from Buffalo, New York, over a decade earlier. A daughter lived in Maine about an hour distant, as did a granddaughter. Basically, my Mother was alone in her community. Old-fashioned pride prevented her from calling for help except when the situation was desperate: I recall her telling me, with shame in her voice, that she’d had to call a neighbor to help lift Hugh into bed when he fell on the floor.
It was never necessary for me to become caretaker for my Mother, even after she began suffering medical problems (while still caretaking Hugh).
I think about my Mother when I visit with my friend Fran, loyal caretaker to her husband. She too is short, not quite 5 foot tall. He towers over her with his 6 foot plus frame. He struggles with multiple health problems, some a result of his military service.
Fran continues to care for her husband because he is her husband and she not only honors her wedding vows, she understands that her husband wants to be in his own home. She will do anything possible to fulfill this goal.
As I listen to and/or watch Fran’s struggle I realize what a difficult task it is to be a caretaker of an ill spouse or other relative. Therefore, my Person X is Fran.
There are other caretakers I admire.
My brother-in-law Chuck is caring for my sister Jane, and has been doing so for a number of years.
Tim took leave from his teaching job to care for his elderly parents. His mother has severe health issues, and his father is not far behind. Through the years I’ve heard him speak about how he responds to the needs of his extended family, how he has taken on their caretaking.
Sal’s caretaking was short-term. Chuck was diagnosed with a fast-moving cancer, and Sal cared for him during several months as his health declined. Roy, on the other hand, cared for Diane for many years. Both Sal and Roy stood by their mates during not only the good times but during the especially bad times.
Any one of the above mentioned deserves special recognition for what they gave to another person through times of difficult care giving.
I recognized years ago that I will never receive an award for caring for another person through an illness. I am thankful I have not been in a position where it has been necessary. So I admirably present Fran as Person X, and the others above mentioned persons—as well as many others who loyally, lovingly, sometimes frustratingly provide care for older Americans—as honorable mention.