I am not a doctor. I am providing information based on experiences that my mom has with natural remedies. The purpose of this blog is to help folks to educate themselves. Use this information with your own discernment.

22 October 2009

The Blessings of Caregiving

I've become my mom's caregiver over time. I still don't know when it happened or why I was the one who "ended up" with Ma. In a sense it seems like it was a game of Russian Roulette, everyone taking turns holding the gun but afraid to pull the trigger. I wasn't afraid to pull the trigger, I bought a house 11 years ago and had her move in with me.

Caring for a terminally ill person is lonely. In the not too distant past, I would wait for help to come out of the goodness of someone's heart; help rarely came, even when I asked for help, little help arrived. When help did come, I was so tired that all I could do was sleep and dream about the golf game that I wanted to play. I cried a lot. What happened to my life? What happened to my career? How did I become the caregiver to my mom with LBD?

Another golf season has passed. I'm grateful to have played 18 holes this past year, better than zero, even if we played on March 18th with frozen ponds and snow still melting on the fairways. The day was heaven sent, it was a warm day with a bright blue sky, one where I got to spend the day with my husband, in silent meditation as we walked the long par 5, separate but together.

Closing my eyes, I can still feel the beauty of the moment, one that I treasure during those times when I feel like packing my mom up and sending her somewhere far away from me.

As a caregiver, I began to resent my siblings. No one seemed to care. No one offered help, just advice. I didn't need anymore advice, I needed physical help. I needed someone to show that they actually cared.

I cried. I felt abandoned. I felt like I was the only one standing in line and when I turned to my left or right for help, no one was there. The sting of abandonment sucks.

This wasn't working for me... it was making me sick. My expectations were out of wack.

I couldn't understand how my siblings didn't learn the same lesson that I had learned from my dad, that family is the most important aspect of life. That we needed to stick together because our family is our only true friend, family will always have love for each other.

I suppose I went into my mom's caregiving with this idea, that my siblings would help, that they'd come and sit with my mom so that I could have some time off. But, only one sister came and helped (she still does.) My brother told me to go "f" myself when I told him that I didn't want to hear him crying when she passed, because he has time now when she is alive. I expected him them to come. It was my unreasonable expectations causing me pain.

Maybe I was insensitive to my brother's mental state and too wrapped up in my own self interests, getting a break from my mom. Who knows what's going on in his life or why he is staying away from our mom? I have no right to judge him. All I can do is love him and hope that he's OK.

If you ever read this dear brother, we love you. Ma loves you and if you come and she doesn't remember you, just know that she does remember you on occassion and loves you very much. I hope you come on a day when she remembers who you are. The worst emotional pain that I've endured is having her not remember who I am, but I got through it and sometimes she seems to remember that I'm Susie and not Donna. She remembers my sister who lives far away, she never forgets her name.

Ma missed my brother a lot when she could remember things. Now, she's having trouble remembering that she even has a son. Maybe it's her way of dealing with the pain that he doesn't visit or call. I pray that one day soon, he'll come before it's too late. There's still a little time left.

My other sister lives far away. I did judge her. I was angry that she would yell at me to put Ma in a nursing home, telling me that I couldn't care for her. Offering advice over email or on the phone, never providing any physical help. Her email notes upset me and made me cry. It was up to me to call my sister so that my mom could talk to her. I got mad. My feelings were hurt. I felt used and abused. I stopped communicating with my sister because I believed that she didn't give 2 shits. However, it was because of this sister that I never gave up, that I kept searching for answers to help my mom continue to live with me until the day she dies.

It's because of my sisters and brother that I never gave up on my mom and still won't. I love them all more than ever now. I have no resentment or anger toward them, only love. I still believe that they learned the lesson from our dad, that family is the most important aspect of life.

I believe that one day, they'll come through, they'll show their unconditional love for their family. I believe that my family loves each other, that they are all just working through the pain of losing mom in their own way. Every one deals with things differently, I understand this totally.

Personally, I've come to terms with the inevitable, that my mom is dieing. She now thinks I'm hired help and wants to pay me for helping her in the tub. Our little mom is preparing for the end. My dad visits her every night, sleeping with her. Her dead brother and father visit too. My brother Ed who died in 2001, he visits. They all make her feel happy and safe.

Every night, when I'm putting her to sleep, I suggest to her that all her kids love her very much. I let her know that they are all safe and sound, happily living their lives. I name all of her kids, singing their names softly so that she will remember the happy times that she shared with all of them. She drifts off to sleep, smiling and saying something like, "Oh, she's nice" as I mention each of my sisters names. I mention my living brother and she always says, "I hope he's OK, he's a good boy, help your brother." I mention her great grandson and her face softens up as she says, "he's so smart and cute, when are we seeing him again?"

As my mom's caregiver, I had become very angry with my siblings. I judged them. I became miserable and sad. I grieved for the loss of my family. I cried a lot.

However, one day I read a post from another caregiver. She explained my feelings toward my brother and sisters. She also helped me to realize that everyone deals with things in life differently.

I love my sisters and brothers, nephews and nieces. I love you all and even though I say, "this is it, I'm never being a caregiver again for anyone", if any of you need me and I am able, I will take care of you.

Caregiving teaches a precious life lesson, one with so many benefits... it's like a gift that keeps on giving. The only way to understand this is to do it... sort of like chocolate. Caregiving is like chocolate, you can share it but you really can't describe the taste - it's pleasure and pain.

I am blessed being my mom's caregiver. I have learned a great deal. I've learned how to eat healthy. I love my family more than ever. I have more patience. I feel fortunate to have another day with my mom. Another day to strive for a good day for her.

Today is a GREAT day! I love my family and I know that they all love me.


  1. It is hard for many people to say or do what they feel but in their hearts they always love their family. After many years of caretaking my stepfather, who was an angel, I came to know that he got his happiest moments when we would talk about the family that wasn't there. He also had all of his deceased family members come by everyday to spend time with him and that made him very happy as well. It is best to just agree when she talks of them or mistakes your name since what she says is real to her. I found the key to keeping him content was just to agree to all he ever said, what the heck it was forgotten soon afterwards anyway. This is a tuff situation and you are very strong to handle it on your on. You are blessed. Jeanne

  2. My mom, she asks me questions about who I am and who is the impostor. She listens intently. Then she starts to quiz me, asking me questions that only Susie would know. When I answer the questions and then start giving answers before she can ask questions she says, "Isn't that strange, YOU'RE SUSIE! HOw do you do it? How can you be Susie? You are the one who gives me a bath... you mean it's you? Susie?"

    She wants to remember very badly. I make a big deal out of things that she remembers, it makes her happy, which makes caregiving much easier.

    A happy mom is an easy to care for mom.

    Thank you for reading my blog and contributing.