One Caregiver’s Thoughts
When I was a teen I used to fear the day when my parents grew elderly and would need my help as a caregiver. The only way I had ever viewed them was as the authority figures in my life. I didn’t much like that either. They had their standards and expectations of who I could be and what I should be doing. In their view, life was serious and needed to be attacked, head-on. I needed to make something of myself,.. be somebody,.. do something useful at least.
I just wanted to go to rock concerts or go camping in the Rocky Mountains. Nothing else really mattered. Oh, to be young and dumb again.
But, I could see the future. We all can to a certain extent. It’s not really a “gift” per se, it’s just inevitable. Everyone ages. It happens. You, me, my parents,.. everyone.
In my youth, “aging parents” were something to fear. I wanted to be free with no restraints. I wanted to be rich, to travel and to change the world. Dreams of the future and what we could make out of this crazy world is one way we grow, both as individuals and as a society in general.
But trying to incorporate being a “caregiver” into our “Big Dreams” is hard concept to grasp when you’re in your early 20’s. And I didn’t want to think about it.
As expected, my parents did age. And it did fall to me to be a caregiver.
But what I didn’t foresee at the time was that the women in my life (my wife and my sister) or that my brother and my son would be standing with me when the time came. Nor the extended family that was ready to help. Or the help of kid caregivers and kind neighbors and other helpers. Or the emotional roller-coaster of that season of my life, good and bad.
Read more about Helping Aging Parents
Today that season has passed, and as I sit here writing this, I can’t help but marvel at the “ties that bind”, my family. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve seen people that have no one in their lives to be with, to talk to, to love and help. And that is unfortunate, my heart goes out to them. I’ve always had a loving family I could depend on.
For me, being a Caregiver is just the same as being family. We’re all in this together. Sure we all have our dreams and plans to change the world. And different members are in different places along “life’s journey”. But no matter what, we still have each other and you can’t change that.
We may not always agree. We may be disappointed by another member’s choice. But we always come back together. After all, we are family.
There’s an old saying – “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family.”
I’m glad I chose to be a Caregiver. It was one of the most memorable times of my life. I would have regretted the decision not to. Nor would I have been able to, if it hadn’t been for my family.
I’m not bragging about being a caregiver, I just did what I could. If I have anything at all to brag about, it would be the friends and family that walk this road with me, with a pat on the back when needed, and a kick in the rear when necessary.
If you’re facing that choice today, as hard as it appears, I just want to say it’s not all bad. Your circumstances may be quite different, your challenges more severe. I’m just saying don’t eliminate participating in caregiving too quickly.
It may just be one of the most memorable times of your life.
Do you agree? Or not? Let’s hear it.