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Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

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Bridge Along The Journey PHALL PHOTO 2013

Bridge Along The Journey
PHALL PHOTO 2013

Metaphor musings. Bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity, to next bridge as opportunity…into the horizon…

Continued from Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 1

An executive caregiver position came open many years later. (No phone call this time.) By then, my children were out on their own and I had divorced their step father. I was 4 years into the best relationship that I could ever have imagined. And then, my partner in life and business, was diagnosed with leukemia. I became Paul’s 24/7 caregiver. The hats I wore covered all aspects of our lives during the year of his illness, treatment, stem cell transplant, our hospital wedding and his final battle with graft vs host disease. We were fortunate to have a strong group of supporters in our family and friends. We all learned so many lessons during this time, that Paul and I began to plan a book about it. My 3-part memoir series of love, illness and loss is a work-in-progress.

I readily admit that nepotism was involved in my next caregiver position. The patient was my mother. My family (2 parents in their 70’s, and 6 siblings in their 40’s and 50’s) were still reeling from the loss of my sister in February 2012. Two months later, my mother had an accident that left her with two broken arms, 2 black eyes and a variety of pain, from head to toe. Yep, I got the call. I was back on an airplane heading north. It had only been five weeks since I returned home from Alaska after my sister’s death,

When I arrived back in Alaska, my brother picked me up and took me straight to the hospital. I stayed in my mother’s hospital room that night, and we took her home the next day.  Mom was unable to care for herself at all. I became her right-hand and left-hand person, and slept beside her at night. I would like to break off and tell you what an amazingly strong woman my mother is, but I will leave for another day.

Two of my siblings live nearby and they circled the wagons to provide support and relief. I stayed in Alaska 4 months and wore many hats while I lived with my parents. My most rewarding role was that of adult daughter to my parents, but the second best was that of caregiver to my mother. I was also able to spend some special time with 2 of my sisters and their families, as well as both of my brothers. I flew home to Washington in August, on the 3rd anniversary of my husband’s death.

A holiday bonus. The patriarch (I call him “dad”) sent Ms. Daisy (mom) and I on the vacation of a lifetime in late November 2012. I joined my Alaska family for Thanksgiving, then mom and I toured the Hawaiian Islands for weeks. We spent Christmas and New Year’s with my Arizona sister (it was her twin who we lost earlier that year) and her family. Mom flew home from Washington in January, after visiting her sister and the rest of our Washington family. [3 months later my grandson died and mom flew back to Washington to mourn with, and nurture our family here]

To make a long story short (hahaha), I received another call. It was the call from my sister that I wrote about in the first paragraph of Part 1 of this post. I’m still not perfect, but I guess I will keep on practicing this caregiver role, until I get it right. I am looking forward to this new adventure of giving care to Mrs. M. in Oregon.

I’ve taken some time this week to ponder the meaning of these calls-to-action that keep arriving in my life. They seem to be bridges to the next part of my journey, rather than minor side trips. So, now I have to wonder where this next bridge will lead me…

You can be sure that when I get the call that Mrs. M is being released, my laptop, printer and works-in-progress will be traveling with me, so please hang out for more.

How will you answer the call? Has a caregiver call been a bridge in your life? We would love to hear your thoughts and experience (in the comment section).

Here are these Helpful Links again:

http://www.caregivers.com/caregiving/ All things caregiver.

http://alzjourney.com/helpful-resources/ An incredibly helpful list of resources for dementia, Alzheimer’s, and caregivers.

Peace,

Patti

Author: Patti Hall

Writer, daughter, sister, mom, niece, grani, and friend. Works-in-progress; 3 children's books, some poetry and a memoir series, "Souvenirs from My Heart." Pursuits of happiness include gardening, walking the beach, reading, writing, photography, traveling and genealogy. I am a widow (2009), lost my sis in 2012, my aunt and a precious grandson in 2013.

13 thoughts on “Someone Needs You. How Will You Answer The Call? Part 2

  1. Caregivers are angels!

    My dad’s body (but not his strong mind) has been ravaged by rheumatoid arthritis for 40 years. The past 7 years he has required care for every aspect of his life. My mother was his sole caregiver until three weeks before her death when she found another angel to help her. He moved in, mom died very unexpectedly and suddenly, but my dad has been cared for 24/7 by this gentleman friend of theirs.

    Dad was sick a few weeks ago, requiring hospitalization/surgery/rehab. Much of his care fell to me and it made me appreciate even more the work of a caregiver. We are fortunate that dad’s needs are only physical, but it is getting more and more difficult and I know that moving him into a facility is in our future. I’m dreading that day.

    Caregivers truly are angels!

    • Wow, Pamela, it is like your mom was already aware that she may not be able to keep up with his care. Your family is so fortunate to have that friend…as it sounds like you already know.
      Each time I think I will never do it again, more because of how emotionally draining it can be. But, really, when I know that I am needed, I have to go. I would have gone to my mom, even if she had had 24/7 care.
      Thank you for sharing your very moving story. I hope things stay smooth for your family, even through the next transition of your dad.

  2. As I watch my parents age, I see many bridges in my future. I’m sorry for the loss of your grandson.

  3. My wife was an astonishing caregiver to me during a terrible period of ill health. A real rock and tower of strength. We both shared the role when her father came to live with us after we watched him going downhill in his own home where we could only visit once a week. When he died she was still trying to be strong but the day after we buried him she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was my turn to be her strength. After 18 months she went into a hospice and my daughter, my nieces and I spent every day and night with her until she passed away ten days later. She was an amazing person and inspired in me strength I didn’t suspect I had.

    • That’s just it, David, those that need us inspire us to do things we never thought we could. I am sorry for the loss of your dear wife. Thank you for sharing your story with us. hugs, Patti

  4. Do remember if you don’t take care of yourself, you will be of little use to anyone else, either. Caretakers seem to be particularly careless of their own needs … but it catches up with you when you least expect — or can afford — it. Be good to you, too.

    • Thank you, dear:>) Need to get out of my cave and do for someone else. Will heed your advice though. I thought of you today. You would have loved the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge…ducks and frogs and just beautiful forest, field and pond fall scenery…

  5. You have many great articles and a book or two in your care-giving list, especially the one with Paul. I’m sure the digging is most difficult there, but I want to know what you went through. Many parallels with my situation, although we had many healthy years first–but when you say stem cell transplant, my belly knots, because I’ve been there, too. It’s amazing how you/we make ourselves available when we’re needed. My husband Vic never asked me, not once, to take care of his mother after his death–and he had plenty of time to ask. Maybe he didn’t have to. In any case, she has no one else. She gives orders. I respond to sweetness–not her style. It’s taken me many years to stand up to her, because who wants a dog-fight with a woman 30 years my senior and the mother of my husband. She’s been a tough love one, but I’m learning how to be kind and not a pushover. And I’m learning how to avoid taking the bait.

    Off to share your piece. Thanks, Patti, and good luck with the organizational nightmare.

    • Lost the 1st try to reply…
      The transplant experience knots my stomach too, Elaine. The 2nd book in my memoir series is The Patient Patient Advocate, about our year, from his dx to his death. That’s where my stories will be. I am close to doing an e-book and print book of the caregiver tips that I wrote in serialized posts here, Postcards.
      It amazes me that you are caring for your m-i-l, yet it doesn’t. I’m sure Vic knew that you would answer the call. And it probably gave him great comfort. Like me, you are just the right person for the job. What a challenge you have being her only!
      That’s where my metaphor of bridge comes in…all these lessons we learn from the tough ones and the easy ones, will take us on a new path…hopefully, with fewer challenges!
      It has been hard to pack for this adventure because there are so many unknowns, but I better get back to it. Thank you for being there and sharing my words and for caring.

  6. I am always in awe of such giving, generous people like yourself, Patti. My caregiving has been limited to animals 🙂 I’m not sure anyone who knows me would call on me unless they were desperate. Really, I even get faint at the sight of blood. Bless you for taking on these challenges. You have a gift.

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