I write from a caregivers perspective. I write about what it's like being a caregiver, about lessons learned, sacrifices made, insights gained, and more. But events of this past weekend served to reinforce a simple truth-- we are all either caregivers current or caregivers in waiting.
This weekend Mandy and I traveled some hours to visit the home of my mother who is going to celebrate her 80th birthday this week. There was a big family party planned and everyone was looking forward to seeing each other. We were just ready to leave the house when the phone rang. It was my brother. "So, you've heard about Mom, right?," he half-said, half-asked. The potential implications of that one small statement/question are enormous. "No, what are you talking about," I asked?
My brother proceeded to fill me in on the fact that we were not traveling to a party-- we were now traveling to a hospital. My mother, it seemed, had taken ill and was transported to the hospital. Now, nearly two and a half days into a hospital visit we still have not been given a definitive answer as to what is wrong. Frustrations with the medical system notwithstanding, all we have been told is that she needs to stay in the hospital another day or two so that they can run tests, try medications, adjust dosages etc. Oh-- we are also told that if she had not called 9-1-1 when she did, that Mandy and I would have instead been traveling to plan a funeral.
How many people are faced, when least expected, with the situation of ailing loved ones and with the predicament of how to care for them? In today's world, with children often moving far away from parents and the concept of a geographically close nuclear family being blown to bits, my guess is that these simple facts of life are going to pop up more and more to remind us that even though we are physically separate, the fragility of life will, at some point, grab each of us with its bony fingers and force us to make that decision about whether to don the caregiver cape.
Take a moment-- whenever you have the time-- to think about family. Are you ready and willing to step in to help should the need arise? What are your personal ‘limits’ in terms of how involved you want to become? Would they want your help? If they protest, what will you do?
Finally, think about your own life and ask yourself if, should something happen to you, what you would want done and who, if anyone, would step in to be your caregiver. This, more than anything, can be a sobering moment.
Published On: July 29, 2008