What’s the best part about caregiving? Getting to spend lots of time with your loved one.
What’s the worst part about caregiving? Getting to spend LOTS of time with your loved one…okay, it’s a bit of joke, and it’s not.
Every person I speak with who has lost a loved one tragically/quickly wishes they had more time. Yes, they realize they are spared the day-to-day worry and exhaustion. They realize their loved one was spared the pain/loss of memory, slow death…but still, they wish they had more time.
Others, like my friend Pam has a front-row seat to a long passing. Her Dad is 98, has bladder cancer, has dementia, and has been living with her for the last 15 years and has been in hospice the last two years. He’s on the slow boat, she says, smiling and exhausted . Her days are spent with hospice care nurses coming in and out of her home. Adult diaper boxes and bed pads are lined against her kitchen wall. Medications line her kitchen counter. She’s 55 and feels like much of her own life has passed by in this decade plus of care.
She reminds me of Diane Keaton in the movie, Marvin’s Room says, “Oh Dad’s fine. He’s dying, but he’s taking his time–doesn’t want me to miss a thing.”
“It’s also been rewarding. We’ve had time to get to know one another, you know?”
There’s a depth to her words. She earned them. She earned what she knows and doesn’t know–about her dad and herself.
The best part of caregiving isn’t a rah-rah cheerleading session kind of peptalk. It’s the quiet hours. It’s the confidence you gain from being tested. It’s what you’ve learned about life and death, relationships, forgiveness, and really knowing what it means to let go.
The best part of caregiving isn’t one thing or another. It’s all you’ve learned that no one can take from you.
~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother, available on Kindle