I have experienced such an awakening that I felt impelled to share it with all caregivers and anyone else that could possible benefit from my experience. I have been a caregiver for 12 years but full-time for a little over 5 years, and until June 28 of this year I was caring for both of my parents. I was so very busy and so very absorbed that I didn’t realize the toll it was taking on me. When my Dad passed, my world shrunk. My Mom is 80 years old and is in the third stage of Alzheimer’s Disease. She is bedridden and does not communicate very much at all anymore. Since this was the case before Dad passed I thought the upheaval I was feeling was the grieving process for my Dad. I’m very sure that was part of it but I know now that I was more burned out than I could have ever imagined. I am finding that each day takes it’s toll and every adjustment is a little more draining unto itself. I was given a gift that was more of a teacher than a reward.
My son and daughter-in-law came for the weekend and instead of keeping me company, they shipped me off to Baltimore. I had a two and a half hour trip to meditate and reflect on my position in life, my blessings and also my shortcomings. I was able to commune with my Higher Power and my Dad. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the peace I felt was over-whelming. By the time I reached Baltimore I felt very uplifted and ready to enjoy seeing friends and family. I spent the next 36 hours visiting, going to bingo, eating out with my daughter and grandson and even doing some house cleaning in my daughters apartment. Imaging that, I drove over 100 miles to houseclean and had a ball doing it. I must mention that on the trip down I called home 3 times to make sure that Mom was doing fine and that it was safe to continue. It had nothing to do with my confidence level in my family. It had to do with my feeling that I may not be able to be replaced and my own need for self importance. Little did I know that by doing something just for me and my mental health I was probably doing what is best for my Mom.
On my two and a half hour drive home I got more in touch with my own soul than I have been in years. I try very hard to do daily introspection, but I know now that everything I have been doing for the last dozen years has been for my Mom and Dad and little for my own self preservation. At last, I have given my Mom the choice to leave this planet knowing that I will be okay and I have been able to show her a peace that I have not owned in a very long time. When anyone talked to me about getting away, I would always tell them that it sounded good but I could not possibly leave my Mom. I know now that I can’t afford not to from time to time. I enjoy my time with her more now and I can talk to her more openly. I’m not afraid to say that I will feel some relief when the dear Lord decides to take her Home in His loving arms. Will I grieve? You bet I will, but my sadness will be for me, not for her. I have always said that my folks and I were the “3 Musketeers” because we were all only children. Now there are only two.
I know now that so much of my focus has been my fear of being alone and my time away gave me the insight to know that I have much more to explore than I have to fear. Will it be difficult? Yes, I am sure that it will be very difficult at times. But I know that it is what my folks would want for me. I think that will be the source of much of my strength.
I talk to my Dad’s spirit every day and I know that he will always be there to guide me along my path. I know now that even though my Mom’s physical presence is still here, it is her soul that I need to speak to. I tell her now that I am not doing anything to force her to stay on this planet. Whether she stays or leaves is between her and her God. While she is here, I will take the best care of her that I can but when God is ready for her to travel to heaven I will smile through my tears and wish her safe journey. For 59 years I have been June and Warren’s daughter. It has been my pleasure but I think it is time I get in close touch with Donna and meet the world.
Copyrighted Donna Fee 09/27/00