As a caregiver you have a special opportunity to show and feel love. Take the time to nourish your relationship and cherish the special warmth you share with your parent.
In truth, your gifts to others are bountiful – love, kindness, sympathy, and encouragement are only a few of the wonderful contributions you make on a daily basis. You should recognize and applaud your own courage and strength. The love you share makes a world of difference every day.
“People ask me, ‘where did you get your enthusiasm, your zest for life?’ The answer is always ‘my father.’ While he was teaching me how to fish and throw a ball, he also taught me to enjoy whatever I was doing. I didn’t realize it, but my wife says he also made sure I knew how to use my heart. She calls it ‘soft macho.’
Mom died years ago, which left him alone. So when he became sick and started withering away, it was time for me to use my ‘soft macho’ and give him back some of the joy he gave me throughout my life.
I took a leave of absence and moved in with him so I could be close to him. My brother and sister thought I was crazy, but I’m so much like him and I knew having family around him would ease his pain at least a little. His body became useless, but his mind was still sound which meant he suffered even more, so the fact that I had come home to him made me glad. I didn’t do much. I just read the paper to him and we watched TV together.
One morning, we were watching television and laughing at a politician’s remark. I looked at him and at that instant he closed his eyes and rested for good in the best way possible. I will always be grateful that I could help my father die the way he wanted to: with dignity, a smile on his lips, and someone who loved him at his side.”
“It’s such an odd experience being human – we’re taught from childhood that we should be ‘goody two shoes’ and that’s what ends up hurting us.
I was angry with mom a few times and those moments haunted me even while I continued to care for her and for a long time after she died. I finally learned what she knew all along. Being human means experiencing all kinds of feelings, not just the pleasant ones.
I know now that the thousand times I loved mom far outweighed the few episodes of anger or impatience I showed her. I also know I was the only one who remembered those angry moments. They meant nothing to her. She never doubted my love.”