(For Denise, Caregiving.com, Aftergiving.com, Pat, and my new fellow caregiver friends JB and GU…)
I know I’ve been away for awhile. I’m hoping to write on that very soon now that my schedule is changing as well as my life.
But it would be very rude of me not to acknowledge the occasion or the work that Denise has initiated and all of you have done to support her, each other and myself. It would be easy for me to say “Happy Birthday!” and “Thank You” in the same sentence but that would hardly be worthy of such a wonderful event or appreciation of a wonderful idea that gathered thoughts and then an amazing group of cheerleaders.
I never knew I was a caregiver until about four years into my husband’s injury. I always thought they were the paid employees (-only-) of a company. Then a few years later friend of Denise’s (and mine) who runs a caregiving group herself introduced me to Denise and Caregiving.com. I was stunned a website that was truly “about the caregiver” and not telling the caregiver how do things in their home. A truly different concept. I got hooked. In fact it became my respite from what I was addressing and taught me many skills. One of my favorite that has become more developed over the years is to write down my thoughts. More importantly to share what was on my mind that I had never been able to share always being under the impression that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I guess I was wrong.
Since I first started coming to Caregiving.com around Fall 2011 (I think?), I presume I have probably written a book’s worth and then some. Supportive advice and hugs came in all forms. The words were very pretty “Silver Gift Boxes” (see Florence Littauer). From it, I grew and gained strength to tackle some very scary moments in advocation on behalf of my Hubby at that time. Later on, it would give me strength to continue on in life as a single widowed mom.
How do I use what I have gained from this cozy little room where we chat have hot cocoa, coffee and what-not?
- As mom, I have learned to continue using my patience grace and wisdom in molding my daughter into a precocious, kind, sweet, compassionate and (apparently) sometimes intense advocate as I watch and hear of her standing up for those who “need a bit more time” in the classroom. I constantly hear her teachers talk about her ability to communicate and befriend students with unique needs and concerns
- As an Emergency Management Disability Liaison, I take your stories and (sometimes literally – thanks G-J & Jane) wear them or tell of them during my presentations to give emergency management (EM) planners a look into the world of things that caregivers have to address in an emergency. Then I would ask them [EM] how they would proceed if in your shoes. Sometimes the reception is a jaw set hard, sometimes silence and the best are, “Can you tell me more about the story? I want to include that in what we are doing.” But I will tell you that I wear that orange caregiving band to each presentation to remind the audience that you and I are in my heart when trying to explain to them why they need to include you in disaster planning for their community.
- As a volunteer at a spinal rehab center, I have become a resource to help other caregivers get knowledge on items or access to financial avenues that they might not otherwise know about. I also act as a sort of…have you seen the clowns at the wild horse rodeos? They are there to make the audience laugh and act as a distraction from the danger at hand. Sometimes with the caregivers– I think I’m that clown. My goal is to never let them leave with out a minimum of two big smiles on their face. It may just be hello or it may be recalling to them one of the crazy stunts that I pulled to make sure my caree was safe. Even the carees and therapists are not immune from this. I usually tell most that my job there is to “cause trouble”. One client who had come in from out of town was incredulous at my driving an hour simply to come, volunteer, make people smile for a few hours each week. Another I gave a small piece of poetry written just for her and she always has a smile for me now, even when I’m fighting my own painful memories. Another I simply had to tease asking how could they be so brave as to let a tiny little woman hold a 10lb bar over their entire chest for several minutes; followed by I thought they were crazy.
My newest stunt is to hopefully pull off a Caregiver Appreciation event for which I will be writing the down the plan for that I only gave to someone verbally yesterday. It should be a lot of fun and the co-conspirator is in full support of it. At this point in time I cannot say much on the details due to timing.
But what I can say is that very recently I did get to pay-it-forward to a wonderful fellow caregiver what you taught me. Here in Atlanta there is an opportunity to recognize caregivers via the Roselynn Carter Caregiving Institute. (Yes, that is via the Former First Lady.) I received the local area award myself two years ago and this year I was asked to nominate someone. Who? I still don’t know many here and very few caregivers. Making a long story short, two wonderful angels were found. Actually the one who was to be nominated agreed with the caree that another caregiver in the household who is unseen and unknown yet had quite a telling story and should be the nominee. What an honor it is to be able to say that that person, like myself, will be awarded the same award this October.
The other day I was given the pleasure of meeting the awardee. What a blast of sunshine, strength and support that I received from meeting someone who currently does 97% of what I did only years ago! We laughed. We cried. We exchanged ideas.The best way to explain it was that we both felt we were in the same home. I’m looking forward to meeting with her again soon.
One of my simple wishes is that I too can one day meet many of you with whom I have laughed, cried, shared frustration, and smirked at the craziness of life. But since I can’t do that right now, I’d like to share some phrases with you. These are all the things that each and everyone of you are who comes to Caregiving.com and have taught me.
Valuable asset to the community
Never giving up, never backing down,
Advocate, cheerleader, counselor, at times their voice
Simple desires of life
Approach everyday in life with a strong well in…
Abilty to truly stand apart
Helping the caree to move forward
A heart to help others
Giving more then they receive
Deserving of the honor and much more
Getting a cheery voice or smile at the end
A hero to the caree
Amazing mental energy
Able to keep what is important to you…and if necessary give all you have away.
Educated, empowered, energized
Having those outside of the community wipe the sweat from their brow watching us do everything we do in life for those we care about.
Good to have somebody to talk to who understands what you go through.
Now relaxed somehow.
Keeping the passion and caring heart to make a difference.
Denise and everyone else who knows me, have a very Happy Birthday and know that you have taken permanent residence in my heart. May you have many wonderful wishes bestowed upon you that would come true!
Forever a Disrupter (Thanks to you!)
The Roaring Mouse