Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How I became a Caregiver....

My friend, Lisa, who I met here in blogland, is also a caregiver and has started a new blog for all caregivers to share.  You can find her here.  It is a blog to help support those of us who are caregivers and it is also a blog for others so that they can understand what caregiving is all about and cut us a break when they find us a little impatient or short with them.

Lisa has started a new exercise for us called  Each Wednesday, for a year, she will post a word to prompt us to talk about our caregiving journey.  She has aptly named this One Word Wednesday.  Today the word she has given us as a prompt is Nurture.

I never thought that I would end up caring for my mother in her golden years.  Mom and I were nothing at all alike.  I was a "daddy's girl".  I thought my Pops walked on water.  As a child I was in awe of him, as an adult I respected and admired him.

My parents first child was a girl who passed away shortly after birth. They then had 4 sons before I was finally born.  Mom was very excited that she finally had a little girl but, as she liked to tell me when she could still remember it, I was never cuddly or girly.  I wanted to hang out with my Pops and my brothers.  I didn't like to shop, wear makeup, have my hair curled and I bit my nails to the quick.  I remember Mom putting me into etiquette classes at Montgomery Wards, called Wendy Wards. The only thing I remember from those classes was that they told us we should always carry an extra pair of white ankle socks in our purse.  I remember thinking, I'm not carrying some stupid purse around and if I did I wasn't sticking socks in it.  When my sister was born Mom said she felt as if her first daughter had come back to her.  Dawn was everything my mother wanted in a daughter.  They were and are two peas in a pod.  And so, I just naturally assumed that when the time came Mom would live with Dawn.

But God had other plans for me.  Shortly before my Pops got sick I had a serious mental breakdown and had to leave my job.  I was sick for quite a while but I started healing just as my Pops got ill and could no longer care for Mom as she needed.  We moved them both into our house and I became a caregiver.  When Pops passed, I was retired and Dawn was still working and had two young kids to boot.  So naturally, Mom stayed with me.  

After several years of caregiving and nurturing it became apparent that I needed some nurturing myself.  I could feel myself getting sick again and Frank saw me spiraling downhill at a very fast speed.  A family meeting was called and Dawn and Tom agreed to take Mom on Tuesdays and one weekend a month and Dick and Jackie agreed to take Mom on Thursdays and one weekend a month. 
This was in addition to Nancy, who we hired to care for Mom each weekday from 8:30-2:30 and Larry and Mary who keep Mom for 2-3 months each winter.

Mom and Dawn
Two Peas in a Pod

That, my friends, is how stressful nurturing a dementia/alzheimer patient is!!  It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to care for our elderly.  My heart and my admiration goes out to all of those who are nurturing their parents without any support from others.  I pray for them daily....I don't know how they do it....I certainly was not as strong as they seem to be.  

Thanks Lisa, for giving me this opportunity to vent.  Talking about our adventure really does help to relieve the stress.


  1. Oh Wendy I had no idea! You are a strong lady. We all need help. I have trouble asking for and accepting help. It makes me feel that I am failing if I can't do it all. Thank you so much for writing this. I am so glad to have found you. God will bless in you special ways, of that I am sure

  2. Thanks Paula. That was one of the things that contributed to my breakdown. That feeling of failing if you don't do it all. And not just do it but do it perfectly!!! It is very humbling to have to admit that I needed help and that I was not Wonder Woman but just a normal, everyday human being. Please take any help that is offered and take good care of yourself.

    1. Thank you Wendy. I am working on it! I sometimes feel my own melt down coming.

  3. Wow! You are more amazing than I thought! I was a Daddy's girl too - he is my angel to this day. I am an only child and at my father's funeral I found out that my mom was harboring some pretty intense jealousy of my relationship with my father. It makes the caregiving process so much more difficult - knowing that if the tables were turned...well, let's not go there! I am so glad I found you and Paula here in blogland (my new favorite word, thank you!). I love your strength in sharing. I admire your ability to put it into words. I appreciate you playing along today.

    1. Thank you again for hosting this Lisa. It really does help to be able to vent.


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