We held our Caregiver Forum at the Mission Inn in August. It was especially significant as this is the 30th Anniversary of Share the Care. At the closing luncheon people were given the opportunity to get up and say what they thought about Share the Care. It was so validating to hear caregivers tell what these services have meant to them and their families. At the end, my very own son, Shea, got up and said what Share the Care means to him. He also said some very kind words about his Mom (me). I was both moved and pleasantly surprised. Sometimes you wonder if your kids even notice, let alone appreciate, what you do.
November is National Family Caregiver Month.
Being part of a family isn't always easy. It is, however, our greatest credential. If we are good to our family it is really all that matters in life. I picture our conversation with our maker going something like this, "I know, I know, you were good at your job but how did you treat your Mother?"
I often wonder if I thanked my mother enough. After she died I found one of those cards they put in a bouquet of flowers inside her wallet. It said, "To the best mother and my best friend. Love, Mary Ellen." It was in my handwriting but I do not remember writing it. It looked to be at least 20 years old. She must have carried that with her for years moving it from old to new wallet. It was important to her and yet, I don't even remember writing it.
I can hear all of you caregivers now saying, "She knew you loved her by your actions. You were a good daughter and you took care of her when the time came."
Now is the hard question - do you, who is the caregiver, the good daughter, wife, son, husband etc. feel appreciated? The one you care for may not be able to say thank you. Sometimes you need to step back and remind yourselves who this person we are caring for is to us. Why did we take on this difficult and often thankless job?
In my case, maybe it was because my Mother was my best friend. She didn't get that way by being a bad mother. Because she was a great mother, I became a good daughter. Your reasons may be different but equally true to you. So I believe that the fact that you are there, doing what you do, is a thank you both to and from the one you care for...
I'm not sure exactly who will care for me when I am in need. If it happens to be one of my children I hope they are compelled by the fact that they feel I was a good mother. If so, I am confident they will know in their hearts that they are appreciated.