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Caregivers,

Do you have a place to go?

A sanctuary?

If not, it may be a big part as to why you’re stressed and resentful.

Caregiving invades your space, your head, your time–you don’t always get to say when you’re needed.

I pulled many a “late night shift” with my mom.

My mother had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and not only did she have Sundowning, a condition in which people with Alzheimer’s get more aggitated and have more energy as the sun goes down–and on into the night, but she simply didn’t need much sleep–or her body wouldn’t let her sleep. (Here’s a post I wrote about my experience with sundowning).

It’s not like we could make it up during the day.

I was dragging. That made me miserable, fussy, and I tended to overeat. Why? Because studies have now shown that obesity is linked with lack of sleep. We tend to munch all day because it gives us something to do, causes our brains to perk up, and since sugar is almost always involved, we’re pumping ourselves up like we’re climbing the highest point of a rollercoaster–and then plummeting to exhaustion.

Maybe what you need isn’t to just lie down. 

It’s a renewal of your spirit you’re hungry and longing for.

You don’t have to be religious to need a sanctuary.

I love that I happen to live in a bird sanctuary area–the Timucuan Preserve. I love the thought that animals are held as sacred and that an area is designated for them.

But shouldn’t we humans create our own sanctuaries? What exactly is a sanctuary?

The word, “sanctuary” means:

Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) –The spelling has changed since then.

Sanctuary\Sanc"tu*a*ry\, n.; pl. Sanctuaries. [OE. seintuarie, OF. saintuaire, F. sanctuaire, fr. L. sanctuarium, from sanctus sacred, holy. See Saint.]
   A sacred place; a consecrated spot; a holy and inviolable
   site.
Two of the definitions include:
c) A house consecrated to the worship of God; a place where
       divine service is performed; a church, temple, or other
       place of worship. A place to keep sacred objects.
   (d) A sacred and inviolable asylum; a place of refuge and
       protection; shelter; refuge; protection.
Operative words: Refuge. Sacred. Shelter. Protection.

How to Create a Sanctuary:

What is sacred or holy to you?

  • Gather a few objects–a photo, seashells, stones, your mother’s broach, your dad’s pocket watch, your baby picture.
  • Grab a basket or a box and walk around your home and hard. Gather anything that interests you. Your sacred objects will change over time. Just get it rolling for now.

Find a place:

  • Where in your home or yard feels “safe?”
  • Where can you have some privacy? Where can you relax?
  • Place a table, a desk, a chair, a cover at this place. If it’s outside then create a box of your sacred items that you can carry out with you.
  • You might also want to include a journal and pen, micro-cassette recorder, a drawing pad, candles, a rosary–any object that helps you figure out life.
  • Go frivolous~ don’t think a sanctuary is all serious! Take your ipod along. Dance! Paint your toenails and read a magazine! Navel gaze. You may just need some extended down time–staring into space.
  • There are no rules. Do what you feel like doing. We’re taught not to trust our feelings. That if we got to do what we felt like, we’d all be drug addicts, cheaters who eat nothing but Oreos. Trust yourself. Do what feels right. Sleep. Stare. Rant. Cry. Sleep some more.
  • Your sanctuary is off limits to everyone else. Make your boundaries. No interruptions. No phone calls. Unless there’s blood and lots of it–you are not to be called away from your most important work–taking care of you.
  • You’ll be surprised, but your family and friends will respect your space–if you do. This is a great example for your children.
  • Don’t expect “results.”
  • This isn’t a magic box. It’s a place to rest or even to rejuvinate. Recenter. Calm down. Work things out. Place no expectations. This isn’t like Weight Watchers for the soul. You don’t have to weigh in and measure if you’ve gained or lost since last week. Just be.
  • You may need to use your sanctuary to work out your anger, hurt, and resentment. One thing I do when I’m really upset is to write it all down on scraps of paper, say it outloud, and then burn it. It helps to watch your anger turn to ash.

Pick a Sanctuary Location:

  • Some people like clearing out a closet and placing a chair, pillows, and a small table and light in their “prayer closet.” Oprah recently featured a sanctuary closet that was really decked out. 
  • Others like to go outside–they hide away in the nook of the yard and get the benefit of nature to heal them.
  • One friend keeps her “special box” she calls it in the car. She literally walks out the door and goes and sits in her car. Her family is less likely to find her there and she feels safe and cocooned. She can scream, cry or laugh in her sound-proof sanctuary.
  • For some, it’s in the bathroom. They retreat eat night to the tub–they keep candles, soaps, and a journal on hand. They know that being naked will most likely keep people away! Hey! Whatever works!
  • Be like my cat and change your sanctuary every once in a while.

Cats are great to observe. They seem to make their spots seem sacred. My cat picks a spot and goes there after breakfast each morning. He gives himself a luxurious bath, folds in his little paws and I swear, if cats could pray, I’d think he was praying. Then, he takes a nap.

This week, his spot is under my birth grandmother’s rocking chair in my bedroom. He tends to pick a spot and goes there for 3-4 weeks before picking another spot. Recently, it’s been in the back of my closet–that’s when he doesn’t want to be found. A few weeks ago, it was on a chair next to the dining room windows so he could enjoy the sun. I knew where he was, but he’s also quiet and hidden away enough to not invite attention. Smart cat.

What Do I Do in My Sanctuary?

First, let’s address what you DON’T do.

  • You don’t take care of anybody but you.
  • You don’t stay busy just to avoid what’s bothering you.
  • You don’t have your thoughts constantly interrupted with the chatter of life.
  • You don’t allow yourself to be bombarded with the demands of every day life.

This is What You DO:

Rest. Think. Imagine. Work out hurts. Cry. Zone out. Learn (maybe take a book?) Find your joy.

If it feels odd at first because you’ve never done anything like this, then let it feel odd. Your sanctuary practice will be even more necessary at the end of your loved one’s life–and especially during your time of grief. Create this space now so that you’ll have a place to run to when you really need it.

Like my cat, I change my locale every once in a while.

Right now, it’s on my back porch on my parent’s glider (they had it since I was adopted in 1965). I have a stack of books on one arm, and I recently bought a big cushion–in case I get sleepy. About 9am you’ll find me there with my 2nd cup of coffee, my journal, a few magazines, a no doubt, a couple of dogs by my feet.

I’m a Guy and This Sounds Lame:

Does it?

My daddy had a sanctuary. He called it a garage. He built it himself. He left for his garage every morning after breakfast (he was retired at this point) and after his game shows. He putzed, worked on a broken lamp, put in a small bathroom. He listened to talk radio. For the most part, he was alone–although a few friends would come and visit. Mama and I came down but never really stayed long. It felt like we were intruding.

He’d come back to the house with a smile. He’d had his time to himself. He smelled of sawdust and linseed oil–and peanuts and Coke he kept in a cooler to sustain him throughout the day. He came back relaxed because he allowed himself this break. He didn’t have to listen to Mama nag or me talk incessantly. He came back ready to be a dad and husband. Smart man.

Caregiving stress is a real issue with real ramifications to your health and realtionships. Sometimes we unknowingly contribute to our own stress by always being on call. Sometimes it’s a power thing we’re unaware of, sometimes it’s fear, sometimes it’s just a plain ole’ bad habit we can’t figure out how to break.

You need a sanctuary–caregiving or not.

You need to know that the world won’t fall apart because you take a half an hour and pull inward.

Like Daddy, you’ll come back refreshed.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

Family Advisor at www.Caring.com

Syndicated blog at www.OpentoHope.com

Kunati Publishers, www.kunati.com/mothering

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 So what’s your dirty little caregiving vice? 

Everyone has them and caregivers are no exception.

 

Caregivers are under enormous amounts of stress, so it’s only natural to turn to something that’s comforting. The other danger is that caregivers spend an enormous amount of time at home and alone–a breeding ground for vices.

 

I’m all for comfort, but what if you’re so exhausted, heartbroken, and numb that you don’t realize you’re hurting yourself?

 

I’m going to list a few dirty little vices and let you pick your own.

 

I’m not judging, I promise. There were times I was a mess during the years I cared for my mom, and I have to admit, I went overboard on a few of vices. You try  being a sandwich generation-er going on three hours sleep, staying involved with three teenage daughters, somehow being a fit wife, and caring for a cantankerous mom with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with no outside family help.

 

I know I’m preaching to the choir here. Feel free to fire back.

 

Dirty Little Vices No One Wants to Talk About:

 

·     Overeating/binging

·     Sleeping pills, or sneaking a few of mom or dad’s meds

·     Pot–available for cancer patients, a toke for you, a toke for…

·     Excessive television or Internet surfing

·     Online gambling

·     Inappropriate online relationships (chat rooms, e-affairs)

·     Porn

·     Hoarding (includes pets, papers, books, food)

·     Pulling your hair out and other obsessive/compulsive behaviors

·     Excessive cleaning

·     Screaming, belittling verbal abuse

·     Closet smoking (no one knows you do this or you’ve increased your amount)

·     Closet drinking (sneaking booze in OJ, Coke, sipping on it all day)

·     Excessive shopping (online counts)

·     Incessant, derogatory, negative thoughts

 

I sense some of you are flinching about now.

She didn’t say pot and porn, did she?  

That’s exactly what I said.  Why?

 

Because this is just life, it’s just people, and life gets tough and we’re hurting and we fall back on some old pattern, something we thought we had already defeated. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it’s just that many of these choices/vices start out small, but they can escalate into an addiction and really screw up an otherwise great life.

 

 

Let’s paint a picture, because without a visual, it’s easy to just discount this stuff and tell people “just quit doing that!” Not so easy.

 

I know of someone who eats an entire box of Ritz crackers drizzled in butter and brown sugar every night after everyone goes to bed (I wish she hadn’t told me that ’cause that’s one I hadn’t thought of)

 

I know of someone whose house is covered from ceiling to floor (every room but the kitchen and den) with boxes and bins stuffed with items they’ve bought and never used–including the garage and a huge storage building.

 

I know someone who has 42 cats because they make her smile every day since she can’t leave the house.

 

I know of someone whose house is lined with groceries left in bags that cover her floor and all surfaces–all the time.

 

Stewing in dangerous negative thoughts of suicide and depression can be as detrimental, if not more so than popping pills. Our own thoughts are powerful drugs.

 

My heart aches. We’re trying to fill a void, that’s all.

 

 

What’s the definition of an addiction?

 

A behavioral pattern characterized by compulsion, loss of control, and continued repetition of a behavior or activity spite of adverse consequences. (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary)

 

Addiction was a term used to describe a devotion, attachment, dedication, inclination, etc. The term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual’s health, mental state or social life. (Wikipedia )

 

Interesting tidbit about the word is that Addiction, as a word, is a noun which in modern sense was first attested in 1906, in reference to opium (there is an isolated instance from 1779, with ref. to tobacco). The first use of the adjective addict (with the meaning of “delivered, devoted”) was in 1529 and comes from Latin addictus, pp. of addicere (“deliver, yield, devote,” from ad-, “to” + dicere, “say, declare”).[1

 

 

I also heard a minister say that the portion of the Lord’s Prayer would be better understood if we said,

 

 I promise you, I’m not harping on your case just to embarrass you. I’ve hit many of the vices listed (except for obsessive cleaning, that’s not my particular downfall). The last thing I want is for the stresses of caregiving to ruin your life. Caregiving, while challenging beyond belief, also has many benefits (It does, I promise, just hang in there).

 

 

So Now that You’ve Identified a Couple of Your Vices, What Do

You Do?

Awareness is key. That’s done. I picked at your wound and you may be bleeding a bit. That’s okay.

Sit with it a few days.

 

Now that you’re busted, you can begin to make better choices. Take a deep breath. Be relieved that someone named it. Said it.

It’s uncovered and you don’t have to hide any more.

 

Ask yourself what you believe: “I believe that if I eat this tub of icecream, I’ll… Feel satisfied? Not feel empty? I believe that if I get in shape, then I have to…date again? Will draw attention to myself?

 

Trust that if you ask, help will appear. The universe (which happens to mean, “One song,” I love that!) wants you whole and well!

 

Although I’m not always a big Dr. Phil fan (his show’s gone too Jerry Springer for me), I like one thing he said:

 

(Paraphrased) “To get rid of an old habit, you have to crowd it out with a new one.”

 

His example was a man who dropped off his dry cleaning for the week at the gym every Friday after he picked it up.

That meant he didn’t have his work clothes at home and had to go to the gym to get dressed. It was the only way to make himself get there–and once he was there, he’d exercise.

 

You might have to go cold turkey. Ditch the pot (or get someone else to administer it to your loved one). Unplug the computer and put it in the closet. Ask someone to help you purge your house. Take the excess to a shelter so you’ll feel good about helping someone else. Crowd out the old vice. Take a class. Take up painting, walking, and bridge. Return to your faith or choose a new one–become a part of a local community to gain strength and support.

 

Vices breed and brood in isolation. The less you’re isolated the healthier you’ll become.

 

Ask yourself what is it that this vice fills? Boredom? Restlessness? Frustration? How can you fill it in another way?

 

Join a support group–even online. Talk to others and don’t keep it a secret. You’re only as sick as your secrets.

 

Be patient. This might not be easy, but each time we to try to kick a vice, we gain new coping skills. You don’t go back to square one.

 

Most of all, forgive yourself. It’s been tough, but it’s time for the excuses to end.

 

 

Our dirty little vices don’t need to destroy our great, big,

wonderful lives.

 

 

~Carol D. O’Dell, family advisor at www.Caring.com

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

Available on Amazon

 

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

 

 

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Caregiving is complex.

Many family situations are a continuation of a long, tangled history.

There are stubborn siblings, financial headaches, cantankerous parents, emotional memories kicked back up, frustrating home heath aides, and confusing health insurance concerns. This is just the surface–throw in worries like a naked, wandering Alzheimer’s loved one, your mother feels cheated on (or is cheating) while her husband is in a facility and no longer remembers any of you, your home health aide stole your wedding ring (you suspect), you lost your health insurance and have to go back to work, but how? Or maybe your mother is like mine and kicks your cat or your partner says caregiving is killing you and insists you give them attention too.

I know how hard it is to find safe, how challenging it is to find reliable help, or you get into a big fight with your dad (and your neighbor) because he ran over your neighbor’s dog and he still refuses to give up driving. Some questions go even deeper–you’ve become hooked on pain meds to compensate for your back from all the lifting and you’re fighting depression, or just how bone-deep scary it is to think that you have to decide whether or not to stop life support and you’re afraid all your family will blame you for not doing enough…the list goes on.

I”m now a “Family Advisor” on www.Caring.com, and these are just some of the types of issues families write about.

It’s not that I’m a know-it-all or that questions always have neat little answers, but I’ll do my research and offer suggestions that are not just technically correct but delve into the heart of the matter. Relationships are not cut and dry, and it’s not easy to just make a decision and carry it out–not when there are other family members involved who may not agree with you–and not when even the decisions that you have to make aren’t easy to deal with emotionally.

Life can’t always be “fixed,” but I’ll do everything I can to offer some valid help and direction as well as support you, the caregiver/spouse/friend. It won’t be cut and dry either. Humor, spunk, and tenacity are great weapons people forget they have, and sometimes we have to use guerrilla tactics to get anything done, but when integrated with love and commitment serendipity can occur.  I won’t sugar coat caregiving either, or wrap it up and slap a bow on it, or belittle the guilt or everyday stresses can just get under your skin.

I know how all this eats away at what fragile hope you have remaining.

By writing a question (even anonymously), you are asking not only Caring.com for advice, you open the window for opportunity. I firmly believe that by simply asking the question you start to attract the answers/solutions. By verbalizing your fears, frustrations and concerns, you can then begin to visualize how this can be solved or at least some of the tension relieved.

You’ll feel less alone. You have options.

If you know of anyone who is in an emotional or ethical quandry consider suggesting Caring.com.

They have sections for all types of care–mental illness, cancer, MS, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and many other points of connection.

Caregivers need every resource they can get their hands on–in their community and on the Internet.

I hope that my book, my blog, and now this family advisor column will help you feel less isolated and show you that you’re not alone. You’re surrounded by people who care.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

available on Amazon

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

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Caregiving isn’t exactly synonymous with a spicy love life–not until now. Maybe a passionate love life is just what the doctor ordered…

 

Dr. Christine Northrup, Oprah’s gynecologist on speed dial and author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, and the Wisdom of Menopause suggests that you spend 30 minutes three time a week in “self love.”

(Yes, that’s right. We’re talking about the M word)

Now, I can only speak for myself here, but unless “self love” includes eating a bag of Dove chocolates, painting my toenails and thumbing through a magazine, I’m going to have about 27 minutes to kill.

 

It’s not like I have to woo myself or assure myself that I’ll respect me in the morning…

 

As a caregiver, mother, daughter, sandwich generationer, pet “mom,” I have to tell you, thirty uninterrupted minutes is hard to come by.
(pah dum,dum)

 

I figure I can blog about this if Oprah can discuss it at 4:00 in the afternoon while I’m making chicken pot pie.

Besides, a healthy love life is important–and most of us would rather “play with others,” so let’s take the leap.

 

Why bother? You haven’t got time? You have no drive?

You’re beyond exhausted? You’ll deal with “that” later?

 

Here’s why it’s crucial: 

 

Being a passionate person spills over into everything in your life–how you dress, walk, what you choose to eat, how generous you are with your time and energies, how affectionate you are to all living creatures–not to mention the effects giving and receiving love has on your heart, immune system, psychological, emotional and spiritual foundation.

 

Here’s a few tips for revving up the ole’ love life for couples who are also caregivers, raise kids, and walk dogs. Believe me, I’ve been there–forty pounds heavier than I am today–sleep deprived, irritable, and pulled in a thousand directions–and living with a loved one with Alzheimer’s isn’t exactly conducive to candles and teddys.

 

Mom’s Home—Quick, Lock the Bedroom Door!Enjoy Your Relationship Even if Your Mom

Lives With You

· Put a lock on your bedroom door—and use it
· Sneak around—intimacy doesn’t just have to happen in the bedroom. Be playful! Flirt!
· Nix the old t-shirt and sweats and wear attractive PJs—they don’t have to be overly sexy to be attractive.
· Stay affectionate–even if you have to make yourself at first—call each other during the day just for a “Hi, and I love you,” hug and kiss hello and goodbye, cuddle on the couch, call each other affectionate names/ take baths or showers together (you do remember those?)
. Take short walks together—even 5 or 10 minutes of fresh air is invigorating and gives you a chance to talk
· Plan a surprise—sneak out to the yard after dark to cuddle on a quilt under the stars with cups of hot chocolate
. Laugh! Rent a comedy, pop some popcorn and sit ont the couch together–not in dueling recliners
· Don’t sweat it if you aren’t in a lovey-dove mood–caregiving is stressful and there are seasons in life. Remember though, a healthy love life is healing, satisfying and stress relieving—and better for you than a bottle of Scotch

  • If you’re a care partner, you have also face physical challenges. Talk, cuddle, find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t think you have to “go all the way.” Find your own way.

Being a caregiver, care receiver, or care partner doesn’t mean you–or your loved one is dead. Unearthing those needs and desires means you’re still alive. Love and passion are vital.

Say “yes” to LIFE every chance you get.

And don’t forget–holding hands is still pretty darn great.

Happy V Day!

~Carol D. O’Dell
Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,
available on Amazon
and in most bookstores

Kunati Publishing

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I’m a sandwich generation caregiver.

My 89-year old adoptive mother (who suffered with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) moved in with us–my husband and I, two of our three daughters, plus a menagerie of dogs and cats.

My situation won’t be the same.

We have three daughters, and I had all of them while I was in my twenties.

That means when I’m 89, my daughters will be 67, 66, and 63. Yikes.

I hope they’ll be in good health and that we can all toodle around and take road trips, eat triple decker double-dipped ice-cream cones and enjoy our grandchildren–and my great grand children.

But there are no guarantees we’ll all be in good health.

And being in your late sixties and caregiving can’t be a picnic.

Just ask all the boomers who are starting down this road now.

Ironically, my mother-in-law has a mother-in-law. Neither are spring chickens. My mother-in-law is 79, and her mother-in-law is 95.

My mother-in-law has begun to slow down and is dealing with an arthritic knee. Her father-in-law died this year  and they’ve been driving three hours a day to help care for his mom (my mother-in-law’s mom-in-law). They’re worried about how things will go in the future, what care she’ll need, how they’ll manage.

They face the same questions I faced–what do we do about mom?

Do we place her in a care facility? Does she live with family?

But they (my father-in-law has his  2 siblings) also have different questions:

Are any of us capable of caring for her–long-term? 

My father-in-law just retired. He was planning on golfing, driving to see all the kids and grandkids, and instead, he’s caregiving.

Guess you just can’t get away from it. The best you can do is look a bit ahead and make a semi-plan.

And as we age, caregiving is even more difficult–physically in particular.

Families have new questions to ask. New plans to make. Grab the moments of fun now and not wait for some “golden” day for that dream trip or to think you’ll sail into your senior years in the glow of a sensual–just-two-love-birds sunset.

My plan is to really, really spoil my grandchildren–afterall, they’ll be young enough to care for me. That, and live big/love hard–now.

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir

 available on Amazon and in most bookstores

www.mothering-mother.com

www.kunati.com

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There was a time when I was caring for my mom (who lived with my family and me–she had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) when I felt as if I were living in a tomb. It was so depressing to wake up every day to the same old routine–pills, dressing her, bathing her, listening to her negativity, which at times, I simply couldn’t lift her out of her dark moods. It all felt so mundane–and it seemed as if it would loom into my future for years to come.

It felt as if I had traded my life for my mother’s.

Sometimes caregiving feels like that.

I told my husband I needed a puppy.

Crazy, I know. Another “life” to take care of–walk, pick up poops, vet visits…work I didn’t need in my life.

But what I needed was exactly that–a new life.

We had a kitty and a Beagle, but she was old too. I didn’t want to lose my mother and my dog at the same time–I needed to counter death with life.

I guess I must have been really pitiful because my husband said okay, and honestly, I was a bit surprised. Our house overfloweth already.

Three kids, a dog, a cat, my mother…and a new puppy? Was I crazy? Was he crazy? Love makes us give into crazy, at times.

So, we went for a bike ride in the neighborhood. Even the sunshine and warmth of Florida did little to lift my thoughts. I was still in a funk. I think it was my first realization that death was going to take its own sweet time and I had a front row seat.

Then, we saw a sign. Literally. “Puppies–free.” Synchronicity.

We rode up the driveway, and there, in the back yard was a mama dog (Alaskan Malamute) and about six fat, wobbly, fuzzy puppies. It really did feel like a sign. (pah-dum-pum)

I chose a sweet, shy fur-ball who sat underneath the truck and then waddled her way out to get some lovin’. She looked at me with big brown eyes and floppy ears and a curly tail, and yeah, guess she knew I was her sucka.

We brought home our bundle and named her Kismet.

That means fate….

Kismet is curled underneath my desk as I write this. My feet are wedged in her tummy area–nice and warm. Her son is under there too. (That’s another post of yet another miracle in my life). My kitty’s still here and he’s in the room too, fatter than ever.

I call them my possy. I have more of an entourage than P’Diddy.

“We” spend our days writing, reading–yes, I read my work to them. We also spend a good portion of the day walking, playing and cuddling. Everything I own is covered in fur. I saw a great handtowel the other day that said, “If it wasn’t for pet fur, I’d get no fiber in my diet.”

My beagle’s gone, and so is my mom. Death gives way to life.

If you’re really down and it feels as if there’s an iron black cloud over your head–consider life. I know it’s work. I know it’s time–and money–and trouble. Believe me, I know the cost of pets. I’ve cleaned up the runs and throw up and infected ears, and all expenses that goes with caring for a biological life form–be it human or dog. 

But it’s still worth it. Why?  

I smile and laugh every day.

I get to pet soft furry ears.

They wag their tales when I open the door.

They seem to like me so much that even if I go into another room–they want to be there–with me.

They’re warm–and cuddly.

They actually seem to smile when they see me.

They make me get up when I might just want to roll over.

They make me walk–even when it’s cold.

They give me a sense of being safe.

They keep me on a healthy routine. They also remind me that I have to stand up to them–they need me to be the Alpha Mama–to be in charge. That makes them feel safe, and it makes me remember my strength.

They make me give–which is good for everyone.

They give me hope.

Life goes on.

(There’s more about my pets in my book, Mothering Mother. They truly were one of the keys to keeping me headed in the right direction in the years I cared for my mom).

~Carol D. O’Dell

Author of Mothering Mother: A Daughter’s Humorous and Heartbreaking Memoir,

Available on Amazon and in most bookstores

www.mothering-mother.com.

Kunati Publishing

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