Caring for a loved one, whether a spouse, child, or aging parent, demands much from us. I know; I’ve been caring for my mother since my dad died eight years ago. At first, it involved taking her on errands and to the doctor. As her physical condition and eyesight worsened, I began walking her from her townhome to ours for dinner a few nights a week.
When she could no longer walk that far, my husband, Mike, and I fixed dinner at our house and carried it to hers so we could eat together.
A year ago, after her stroke, Mike and I moved in with my mom to give more hands-on care. We took turns watching her, taking her to doctor’s appointments, and offering emotional support.
Six months later, she was gone. At ninety-four, she’d lived a good, long life. She expressed many times she was ready to go meet Jesus in Heaven.
I have few regrets.
Now that my caregiving season has ended, I struggle to find a new normal. So much emotional and physical energy was spent over the past years that I find it hard to establish a new routine. Mike and I sometimes don’t eat dinner until 7:00 or later. With Mom, it was always 5:30 – 6:00. We no longer have to coordinate our schedules so someone is always home to be sure Mom is okay. In the past two weeks, we’ve had dinner together, at home, less than five times.
It’s very different. It isn’t all bad. We’ve discovered the freedom we had years ago when both of our kids left home for good. I can throw myself into my career, I can meet with friends for an impromptu coffee, and I can leave for an entire weekend for a writing retreat.
Mom would have approved.
This will be my last blog on caregiving. Going forward, I will write on a number of subjects, including aging with grace, how others handle the end of their caregiving seasons, and even some book reviews. I welcome suggestions and guest blog posts.