Wife of Celebrated California Music Teacher Shares Her Experience as Caregiver
Popular San Fernando teacher awarded Caregiver Grant to attend Road Scholar educational yoga retreat in March.
In honor of Women’s History Month, Road Scholar recognizes and honors the millions of women who everyday act as caregivers for their loved ones. While many men step up when necessary, the emotionally and financially grueling role of caregiving often falls to women, who often make tremendous sacrifices to their personal and professional lives to care for ill loved ones.
Honoring the Amazing Ellen Kaminer-Gigger
This month, Road Scholar honors Ellen Kaminer-Gigger, 74, for her role as a teacher, wife, mother and caregiver. For Ellen and Richard Kaminer-Gigger, music was the language that brought them together both professionally and personally throughout their 42 years together – even as Richard’s health began to decline.
Both were music teachers in California; Ellen taught voice and managed the drill team while Richard was an accomplished saxophonist, band leader and teacher who served in World War II. And when Richard’s health began to decline, music was the one thing Ellen could always rely upon to help her stay connected to the man she affectionately calls her hero.
“Richard suffered a brain injury about eight years ago and, when he passed away, I didn’t just lose my husband, I lost my purpose,” said Ellen. “We taught together, we created music together; he was a force to be reckoned with, and during the course of his career with the military and as a music teacher, he was known as a brilliant, compassionate and loving mentor, colleague, teacher and husband.”
Like most caregivers, Ellen acknowledges that it was difficult seeing her once-dynamic, healthy husband become ill. She knows that had she fallen ill, Richard would have taken care of her in the same way. Richard succumbed to his illness in 2016.
A Well-Deserved Road Scholar Caregiver Grant
This year, Ellen applied for and was awarded a Road Scholar Caregiver Grant, and plans to embark on a new chapter of her life with the not-for-profit organization’s women’s-only educational yoga retreat in Arizona in March. The five-night program is “Sedona’s Healing Arts for Women: Yoga, Qi Gong, Ayurveda and More.”
Road Scholar offers Caregiver Grants for up to $1,300 toward a U.S. or Canadian based educational adventure of their choice; this respite often gives caregivers the time they need to recharge, reflect and reset during a loved one’s illness, as well as in the difficult period after losing their loved one.
Richard’s dedication to his students was rewarded when they took a vote after his passing and unanimously decided to memorialize him with a mural and the naming of the school’s music building after him, in recognition of the couple’s contributions to the school’s band and drill team.
Ellen shared her story with Road Scholar in hopes of inspiring other women caring for their loved ones to apply for a Road Scholar Caregiver Grant. To learn more about how to apply, please visit the Road Scholar website.
Are you a caregiver? What do you find most fulfilling about looking after someone you love? What do you find most challenging? Let’s have a conversation!
About Road Scholar
Road Scholar is the nation’s largest not-for-profit educational travel organization for adults – a true university of the world. Road Scholars are immersed in educational activities led by expert faculty who offer insider access not available to most people. It offers 5,500 programs in 150 countries and 50 states, and financial aid for those who otherwise could not participate in its programs.
Road Scholar educational adventures are created by Elderhostel, the world leader in educational travel since 1975. Learn more at press.roadscholar.org.