God grant me the courage
not to give up what I think is right,
even when I think it is hopeless.
Chester W. Nimitz
Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz
led the Allied Forces to Victory in the Pacific in World War II
When I first saw this quote it resonated with me. So many elements of the care giving life can seem hopeless. It can be very easy to just give up. After all, care giving cannot create good health, prevent disability or death. As they say, no one gets out of this life, alive! But it can provide a safety net, an improved quality of life and a dignity in aging for someone you love. It may seem hopeless if you see only the downward spiral, but care giving ... it is the right thing to do.
Sharing my life as a care giver in my blog began as a fleeting thought. The idea popped into my head in a nano second and took root. I couldn't seem to shake it. Draft postings began to tumble out of me ... like a dam with a small unchecked leak that grows and grows until there is a flood.
Still, I held off publishing that first posting. I held off for a long time. Who would be interested in the ramblings of a daughter doing what millions of other people have done before ... caring for an aging relative. There is nothing unique about my story. What value did it have except to me?
And still I continued to write and write and write ... drafts only. But the idea of publishing the posts grew just as the idea of writing my story had grown. It felt like this idea was taking on a life of its own. As the drafts evolved, I knew I would publish something to my blog at some point.
I finally published my first post with the thought that this writing was for me! The post would have an audience of one. Maybe a few family members might be interested. But the goal was to write for me. So I turned off the comments option.
Soon I was getting private emails from others who saw themselves in my story and felt compelled to respond in the only way I allowed ... by personal email. The emails expressed a kind of kinship with my life. Some comments were so descriptive that I began to wonder if they, too, had a "leaky dam" that needed a little release. I began to understand that the barrier of "no comments" was unnecessary. Readers wanted to share. So I put the comments function back on the posts.
Well, it is all out. The good and the bad.
Is this the end? Hardly. I am still care giving. I am still living each and every day with my aging mother.
This blog started with a theme provided by Mark Twain.
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed
by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do ..."
The quote, in its unedited form, references bold thinking and actions: "explore, dream, discover." I see my life right now as less than bold, but the quote is still valid. When all is said and done ... I will not be disappointed by the time I have devoted from my life in caring for my mother.
I guess the flood of thoughts and words on this topic will slow a bit now. I have exhausted many of the backed up emotions and observations. The dam is no longer at flood stage. I am content to write on care giver things as they evolve.
I want to thank all of you who followed this story and provided so many thoughtful comments both on the blog, in person, and through private emails. Many of you shared your own care giving experiences. It has been an honor for me to have such wonderful readers.
I need to send a very grateful "thank you" to two blogging friends who invited me into their blogs and introduced me to their readers.
Doris, from Hold My Hand, is a nursing home social worker. She professionally understood as well as any care giver the life experiences and emotions I shared. Her recognition helped me understand the value of my experience for anyone walking this road with an elderly parent. It was also my first "guest post" on another person's blog. Thank you, Doris.
Another long time reader, Delores, from The Feathered Nest asked if she could introduce me to her readers through a post on her blog. I was touched and felt honored to be the topic of one of her posts. Delores, with her supportive comments and gentle wit, was a constant companion for me as I told this story. Thank you, Delores.
This writing has given me some clarity and peace. So much of what I did over the last 5 years was reactive to life as I lived it. There was no plan, no method, no agenda. I responded from my gut. I did what I thought was right at the moment without giving it too much analysis. Now looking back - seeing the path I took without thinking - I see that my gut was right. Thankfully, I listened to my gut more than I listened to others. I think it worked out. At least so far.
And I am also glad I finally listened to the mustard seed growing in me and started to write about this experience. These days are a bit lighter for me now that I have remembered ... and shared.
Finally to my mother. Much is made of a woman's pain and struggle to give birth. But I sincerely believe that the real struggle comes after birthing. Molding a child into a normal functioning human while living a very difficult personal life is the best gift a mother can give her child.
Care Giver and Daughter