I’ve been busy with life and trying to enjoy myself as much as possible but whenever my ears perk up at the sound of a conversation about caregiving I’m right back in the moment. Case in point, while waiting to board a plane I overheard this woman talk about being a caregiver to her widowed father long distance. Her caregiving was compounded by her own health issues which included some shoulder problems.
She was telling this young man all about her health issues and how she wasn’t able to lift her dad; how they had a home health worker to come in to do that for his bathing, etc. and how she was probably going to end up moving out to wherever to help her sister with him. I thought the young man she was talking to was someone she knew but as he said his goodbyes he was just an ear to bend for her.
Well someone else came up to her (merely to check out departure times) and away she went telling the same story again. I began to wonder if this woman had any other life than talking about her health and the health of her father. Seriously. But I can understand…a little. I feltho a bit ashamed when I had thoughts about the poor person who was going to be seated next to her for a four hour flight. I know, shame on me.
Then there was this meeting I attended where we were congratulating someone on being promoted and being transferred to a different state. I had a chance to talk to her later that day in private when she mentioned that she had to tell her family that she was doing this transfer for herself and her life. Their jaws all dropped because – guess what – she was the responsible one for taking care of her father. Mind you, she had help from her siblings but the majority of the responsibility was on her.
She had “the chat” with her family members and told them that she was the only one looking out for her (she was a divorced career woman) and that she had to do for her. Eventually they saw where she was coming from and they will have to figure out how to do things without depending on her. Amazing, but really not so, how when it comes to caregiving there is almost always some one individual who is THE responsible one.
Often that responsible one puts various degrees of their lives on the shelf in order to do that job; I did. Oh I tried to juggle the whole scene of wife, mother, employee, sibling, caregiver as best I could but in the end all of the hats I wore suffered some in quality as I tried to be the best caregiver I could for my parents.
Being the responsible one is a major task that many do not fully understand the ramifications of unless/until they too become that person. After my tour of duty as I call it was over, I didn’t want to be responsible for anything for awhile even though I had become so used to calling the shots that I would often have a tug of war with myself over letting go or keeping the control. Being responsible is a weighty task physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, etc.
Are you the responsible one?