The River

CCA-Andrew
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(Editor's Note: We welcome Andrew, who understands caring for a family member will be in his future, to our blogging team today. You can connect with him on his profile page: @alzandrewkoch.)

It was just the other day I spent time lost in the wilderness and found with it the outwardly stretch of the Great Kankakee River.

We were out fishing for pike, an aggressive fish that demands patience and feeds itself on other fish. He told me that he rose at 4 a.m. this morning in earnest but had to wait knowing that the bait store didn't open up until 6 a.m.

He said that he thinks the old man at the bait shop is losing it, charging us a dollar a piece for chubs but that he got a good deal on bass minnows by the dozen.

The fish we used for bait were beautiful. A few various sizes, the fish squirmed around in the bucket, frantic and familiar grasping, clenching, and an upward lift that his day twice had brought.

We were out the door in no time, I finished my breakfast quick. As we rode, frost law gave warning. The back roads couldn't support more then 10 tons at a time.

Roy is as much of a father as he has been my uncle as he is my grandfather. He has been a constant rock and steady fortress in my life.

I've never seen him cry, tonight I weep. I am to be an expectant care partner for him. My initial offer was to my grandmother, Grandma would you be my first partner as a Certified Caregiving Consultant?

It wasn't but five minutes in, "I'll just put him in a nursing home."

The thoughts drowned me. She had her reasons. Her explorations as to why but I had shut myself off. I could not consider having my Uncle Roy in a nursing home. HE IS MY UNCLE ROY, YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM, DON'T LET HIM GO!

Fear and panic filled me, sorrow and a sense of loss, too close to home. I want to help others, I commit to empowering the lives of others.

I should validate her words. That's the next step right?  To approach her with curiosity?  I am committed to learning? Committed to feeling my feelings all the way through,  I am committed to candor.

And in that moment, my commitments didn't matter. What mattered to me was the tightening in my throat, the angst in my voice, the sudden rise of temperature in the room and all the whole while I wanted to yell how could you say that. HOW DARE YOU.

We each had a rod, the casts were beautiful. He had just purchased a new rod a few days back. I have never seen such beautiful tosses, as if with pin point accuracy he knew where the fish were hiding. He always knew.

We had our bobbers set, poles drew lax and so we began our musings of the world around us. It was such an incredible day. There were a few mini sessions of light rain. Scattered marching on the Bayou.

An hour and a half later, a stirring. A gentle erratic movement. You see, when pike fishing you have to use a large fish as bait. You are looking for hungry smart prey. Pike like to play with your bait, they de-scale the fish they look to eat. For the pike are refined, like to taste their food, to eat a fish without scales, to remove the tines and points on fins.  We scale our fish, so why not the pike?

I had to process what my grandmother had just told me. And I did, I went up to vent, I went to move, I shifted. And I didn't avoid my feelings. I let myself process it. I felt anger in my neck and shoulder and heaviness in my heart and weepiness behind my eyes. I wanted to cry. I let out some tears shared my concern with my partner. That helped some. It validated my response. It validated my choices,  my commitment to growth. My commitment to heal. As I help and heal others I too am healed. As I heal my capacity to help and heal others increases.

I am at harmony and symbiosis with my current situation. I am willing to have the rest of the conversation. I want to validate her feelings and also realize that this is part of my caregiving story.

The bobber fully submerged up and down it toyed for a fee minutes. Whipping back the pole in an effort to set the hook.

Nothing.

No fish today. We spent two more hours in the cool weather. Entrenched in fishing. Determined and hungry.

The bait my uncle was using had a few bite marks, he was missing a number of scales.

Before we left he told me he had fallen asleep on the bank.

I am grateful for moments where we can fall asleep in the rain on river bank.

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