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The Gift of Caregiving

Or Ami Congregant Linda Fingleson received an award for this essay entitled, “The Gift of Caregiving” from Caring Today website. Linda writes:

“Mom ‘n Dad, I’m here.” How many times a week doyou say that? If you are a caregiver of loved ones, you would be saying it almost every day of the week, for months at a time, possibly continuing for years.

I have calculated that between my twin sister and me we have said it at least 2500 times in the last three years. When our parents could not drive anymore, they became totally dependent on us. When my father fell and broke his wrist and hip, we knew they could not be alone anymore. We hired a full-time caregiver to be with them during the nights and the few hours we could not be with them because of our own families. We are responsible for all their basic needs, food, clothing, medicine, doctor appointments and entertainment. That first year it felt like a chore, and both my sister and I were somewhat resentful because how did we end up with this job? If we went grocery shopping and the next day my mother called and said she forgot something, we became angry. Doctor appointments became a nightmare: By the time we got them in and out of the car, waited for the doctor, had the blood work done, it was a three-hour ordeal.

But the most amazing thing happened about a year into our caregiving duties. Instead of being angry or resentful, we started to fell like we had been given a gift. Yes, a gift! Those long lines at the market or the even longer waits in the doctor’s office became an opportunity to have conversations and find out things we would never have had the chance to do-the stories and long talks about the different lives they both lead and how it made them the people they are today—memories and snapshotpictures in our minds that can never be taken away from us. I think the biggest gift that my sister and I have received from our parents is the appreciation—the appreciation they feel for what we have given them of our time and energy, and most of all, for our unconditional love. We feel blessed to have been given these last three years to give care to our parents and hope and pray that there will be many more memories and stories to come.

There is a bond so strong between us that it is unlike anything we thought possible. We have become an inspiration to our friends and family who in the beginning thought we were crazy for taking on this task, but now see the opportunity we have made of it. Yes, it is hard; yes, some days are more difficult than others. But anyone who is giving care to loved ones has made a commitment to make the lives of those people the best it can possibly be. Both my sister and I feel that this, initself, is a gift from God!

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