Most of us have at least one or two caregivers in our lives. As the holidays arrive and gift lists are being made, we often come at a loss when we need to think of an appropriate gift for caregivers.
There are millions of long-distance caregivers, and the numbers are growing every day. Distances vary, though loved ones who need care may live in another state or even another country. My parents lived in the same state but 90 miles away. It was a 2-hour commute each way for me.
I believe caregivers are warriors. They are like angels walking on earth fighting for those around them who need to be protected, cared for and heard.
Strong, committed and dedicated, caregivers all over the world show up and selfishly put the needs of others before their own and champion for those who can’t do it for themselves.
I was recently speaking with a fellow caregiver warrior, and she was telling me how in the days before her father passed, the only thing he would eat was ice cream.
I was in my late 50s when I became a caregiver for my parents, so our family dynamic was pretty established. We were a family of strong personalities. My Mom was the boss and controlled all the family matters. My Dad was patient, easy and outgoing and let her rule the roost.
I grew up with a Mom that pulled out all the stops for the holidays. Our entire house was decorated inside and out from the weekend before Thanksgiving to the weekend after New Year’s. Our house looked like a Hallmark Christmas card.
I was recently thinking about the first conversation I had with my Mom about how I could pitch in and help her out more. At the time, I wasn’t sure what that meant – and I most certainly didn’t know how to have such an important and serious discussion.
My Mom, who had been diagnosed with dementia, was leaning up against the sink in the bathroom. Her soapy hands were under running water. I was reaching around her trying to gently use a nail brush to clean under her nails; she’d just had another accident and her hands and nails were a mess.
Caregivers are angels walking on earth. They are tireless in their devotion and committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure those they love are safe, protected and supported.
I was completely unprepared for my caregiving journey and set out on choppy waters because I was determined to care for my parents.