The Miracle of Caregiving! Part 1.

How did it happen?

Some of you know that my wife Rita has Parkinson’s. Consequently I have become a caregiver. I am not an expert, far from it, I am still learning but let me share a few thoughts on being a caregiver in the hope that it might encourage you if you are in the same situation.

Caregiving is not easy. It is not something we seek. We don’t ask for it. For the most part it comes upon us quite surreptitiously. It arrives without fanfare – in fact it arrives under the radar. The simplest definition of caregiving is to provide physical and emotional support to those who are unable to care for themselves. But I believe it is even more than that. I believe it is to create the very best environment and the best living conditions so that the person cared for enjoys life to the fullest possible extent, in spite of any incapacity.

It develops over time and grows from the normal assistance and help, to ultimately the full time twenty-four hour attention. One begins by doing simple things in the course of a regular day which help and provide support but then as the incapacities grow so does the need for help. The person cared for slowly becomes incapable of doing most routine daily activities. To me that has been painful. To see deterioration in the one you love is difficult to handle. Suddenly you wake up one morning to realize that anything and everything that is to be done has to be done by you and not just one day but from here on in, every day! That thought is daunting and disturbing.

If one is caring for a spouse then it comes naturally out of the marriage relationship – it is all part of the commitment. Remember the wedding day and the words, “in sickness and in health.” Never did we think it would apply like this. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where the vows and commitment made take shape and are fulfilled.

If you care for a parent then usually it is because you have accepted the responsibility, maybe because there is no one else to do the job. You recognized the need and have chosen to stand in the gap, strap on the load and commit to being the child again, but this time the rolls have reversed and the responsibility for care has fallen on your shoulders.
It may be difficult to imagine but caregiving is not all negative. It brings its own rewards. For the most part those cared for appreciate the care and recognize the effort, and maybe sacrifice, expended on their behalf. Deep gratitude is never far below the surface even if it is not always verbalized.

Is this caregiving a chore, a challenge, or a privilege? If we are honest it can be a chore. In fact it is often hard work. It certainly is a challenge at times but if you really love the person then it is a privilege. God has allowed me the privilege to care for my wife and therefore I do it to the very best of my ability.