Twenty Years

Lillie Fuller

Twenty Years

Lillie Fuller
Almost 20 years ago I took my two little boys, age 2 and 6, and I left a very unhealthy relationship filled with anger and abuse. I moved home to my parents' house to find myself and to have a safe place for my boys and I to live.  

In these 20 years I watched my dad transform from a vibrant 74-year-old man to a very sad and angry soul.  The tremors of Parkinson’s disease started first followed by the loss of his eyesight. My dad suffered with sundowners, the doctors said. Because of all the Parkinson’s medication, the sundowners eventually became full-blown dementia. For five years my dad was at home. We tried to keep him here and it just became too much. He wanted to be outside when it was bedtime and he kept the house in an uproar the rest of the time, so much so that my mom suffered strokes during the time my dad was here. My dad went to a convalescent home seven months before his death.

In 20 years I’ve watched my two boys grow from grade schoolers to wonderful young men, with great jobs and beautiful hearts. They have become my best friends. In these 20 years my stepchildren and I have become close, all the anger and animosity gone. I have a beautiful relationship with each of them. In this 20 years I suffered the loss of my youngest stepdaughter, who I raised from age 6 to 17.  I became a Grandma to three wonderful little boys who are now teenagers. I have watched them grow and I have been a very active part of their life.

In these 20 years I have lost a few friends I thought were for forever, but I also became acquainted with and became friends with people who know and understand my caregiving role. They accept what is.

In these 20 years that I have cared for my mom I have witnessed the declines of stroke, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, falls and heartbreak. I have spent countless hours in the emergency room and in a hospital room. I have lain awake at night waiting and listening, wondering and praying. In these 20 years I have more hours awake as a family caregiver than I do a mother. I have witnessed my siblings pull away from their mother, I have felt their detachment.  

In these 20 years I have learned more about life, family, loving, giving and caring. I have loved and learned and earned and given respect.

Twenty years ago I came home to find myself. And I did. I found myself.