I almost missed this week’s newspaper. We have been in Louisiana all week, and I have fallen way behind in my writing. Thankfully, I can write quickly once I receive a gentle reminder that a deadline is looming.
We made the four-hour drive to West Monroe in just over three hours last Sunday when we received a call that David’s mother was in the hospital. Betty had suffered with various lung issues for several years, so when she contracted pneumonia, it was critical. The family gathered and stood vigil, at her bedside when we were allowed into the ICU, and in the waiting room or by the phone when visiting hours were over. (more…)
In my writing, I have sometimes called caregiver heroes–not the kind of hero that steps up in a sudden moment of crisis and performs a single amazing feat of courage. Instead, caregivers are heroes because of, as today’s quote says, the small things they do. A caregiver’s life consists of taking care of repetitive but essential needs like nutritious food, clean clothes, fresh bedding, regular medications, doctor’s appointments, companionship, reassurance, comfort, and so much more. Even the most heroic caregiver is also human, though. They get tired, bored, discouraged, irritable, angry, and sad. In spite of these feelings and others, they quietly continue to see to the needs of their loved one with heroic commitment and great love.
Last month I wrote about the experience of my first newspaper interview. I talked by phone with Kenny Green, Community Editor for the Mesquite News, and he published a write-up of our conversation on July 31.
Last week I had another new experience–my first radio interview. After seeing the article in the Mesquite News, Shondra Tharp, Advanced Broadcast Journalism Teacher for Mesquite ISD, contacted me about an interview. I wanted the full experience instead of a watered down telephone version, so David and I made the 150-mile round trip to the KEOM studio. (more…)
Read what Robert August, Ph.D. had to say about my book.
Linda Brendle’s A Long and Winding Road: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos is an account of her time as caregiver to her parents in their later years as their health failed. It focuses especially on a long RV trip that she and her husband took with them. It is filled with accounts of moments that would test the patience of even a saint, and recounts them with both love and honesty. I especially liked the way that the story didn’t flinch when describing incidents that would have most people packing up their folks for the assisted care facility. Linda is very honest about her reaction to these incidents; at no time does she paint herself as a saint for taking on this responsibility. Ironically, I’m pretty sure this attitude actually earns her points on the Saints scoreboard.
The main storyline concerning the RV trip is bolstered by antidotes…
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This is very true. You also know you’re old when the waitress automatically gives you the senior discount without being asked. The thing that makes you feel the oldest, though, is the honesty of children.
On one of my visits with my brother, his granddaughter was spending the night at his house. She had not seen me in a while, and she stared as if she didn’t quite recognize me. Finally, she came closer and said, “You look different. Did you get gray hair for your birthday?”
Caregiving is often a lonely and thankless job. While a caregiver is sometimes left without help or support, he or she suffers no shortage of critics who are more than willing to point out how the job could be done better. In those frustrating moments, it would be all to easy to lash out and say, “If you think you can do a better job, I’ll pack Grandma’s things and bring her to your house this afternoon.” However, the Apostle Paul reminds us who we’re really working for–not for those critics or even for our loved one. Instead, we are working for the Lord, and He will give you the love and grace you need just when you need it the most.
When I was younger, I thought operations and medications were the only subjects older people talked about. As I “matured,” I realized that I was wrong. Sometimes we talk about our final wishes–how we want our earthly remains to be put to rest when we leave them behind. A couple of Sundays ago, several of us went to lunch after church. By the time our meal was finished, we had solved the world’s problems, and our conversation drifted to more practical matters like the choice between burial and cremation.
One couple, while they took part in the discussion, remained non-committal about their personal plans. David plans to be buried at Uncle Sam’s expense, thanks to his eleven years of service in the Navy. The rest of us plan to be cremated. (more…)