Heroic Kid Caregivers
I looked at my 13-year old son and was shocked. His face was tight with stress, his hands were in fists, and worry and frustration was an aura around him.
When did this happen? Why hadn’t I noticed it before now? Why didn’t I see this coming? One of the most important people in my life and I am completely oblivious. Sometimes I marveled at my own stupidity.
We had been walking around my mother’s house, just the two of us. We were mentally arranging and rearranging furniture. “Who will get this room” and “where to put this stuff”, that kind of thing. We were moving into the house to be caregivers for my mother. She had recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, and it was apparent she could no longer care for herself in a reliable manner. We knew it was going to get worse when she began her chemotherapy sessions. Having talked it over with my brother and sister, it was decided that my family would be the easiest/best choice to move in to her house and care for her there.
Almost Ready to Move
So, here we are, getting ready to move in. We had little time to prepare everything. Mom would be coming home from the hospital in a few days and we had to be ready. This is gonna work, I thought. We had talked with all the extended family members, and everyone was ready to pitch-in. Not only with moving, but with the task at hand – taking care of Mom. We had consulted with doctors, therapists, homehealth care, even neighbors. We had even planned out how the dogs and cats would adjust to the move.
All bases are covered and were ready. At least, that’s what I thought. Then, I was standing there, looking at my only son, consumed in crisis and struggle. I can see it like it was yesterday; that vision of him burned in my brain. I’ll never forget it.
In that moment, I felt life had slapped me in the face and said, “Wake up, fool.”
So we sat down and we talked. We talked about Granny and her love for him and his love for her. Yes, moving from the only place he had ever lived is hard. But living with lung cancer is worse. Someday, we don’t know when, Granny won’t be around anymore. But right now, we can make her life a little better, and we can go through this all together as a family. It won’t be forever. How long? I really don’t know.
We then discussed our plans as a family. Everybody can do something. Let’s all pitch-in. Once my son adjusted to the move, he found out that this life isn’t so bad after all. His relationship with Granny was perfect, and he seemed to fit right in as a helper. He sat-in with some physical and occupational therapy sessions and was instructed in the best way to help Granny transfer from wheelchair to a chair, or car seat. Next, he learned how to help her in and out of a wheelchair. My son could carefully load her in a car, then fold and store the wheelchair in the trunk. With all of the doctor’s visits, he was kept quite busy, and he was very good at it, gentle and strong.
It’s amazing how much help kid caregivers can be, given the chance. Though he feared the situation initially, he not only got past it, he excelled in his role as a caregiver.
I could ramble on for days about our experiences,… but not now. Perhaps you have had similar experiences. Maybe there’s some heroic kid caregivers in your life. I’d love to hear about them.