I remember the day I brought my eldest daughter home from the hospital. All I'd ever wanted was to be a mother, and now I was, and I was terrified. My husband had to work that first night, and I was totally responsible for this little person. What if, what if, what if played through my mind. Caring was scary.
After a few days and weeks, I got the hang of it. I bathed and changed and dressed and nursed and did it all again. What surprised me was the incredible exhaustion. My first daughter slept through the night almost immediately and always napped well during the day, but I was still worn out. (Actually, I was totally spoiled. I learned this with my second daughter, who seldom slept, and never more than a few hours at a stretch!)
Then came the day--the magical, wonderful day when she looked into my eyes and smiled. Suddenly everything--everything was worthwhile. That day, she gave to me, and I received the gift with joy.
One of the problems with being a care partner is that we focus on the "care" and forget the "partner." Being a partner in care is receiving as well as giving.
Sometimes the gifts are obvious, but many times I have to look closely to receive them.They can be easily missed, and if they are, I am so much the poorer. Here are some examples:
- The pleasure I get from watching George*, sitting outside in his wheelchair, keeping watch over the hungry birds, pecking at a few crumbs. He used to be an avid gardener, and although he can no longer participate, he loves to sit in the garden and experience it.
- The sparkle of fun in Celia's eyes when I come to help with breakfast. She seldom talks, but her expressive face speaks volumes.
- Listen to Gerry reminisce about family times at the cottage.
- Talking to John about his career and his travels.
- Listening to Greta, 103, pound out hymns and popular songs on the piano. Watching her sharing with a young student as they pick the next song together.
- Holding Martha's hand, knowing she is nearing the end of her journey and reflecting on an amazing life.
Even when a loved one isn't able to do the things they used to, they are able to give.
Are you able to receive?
*all the names have been changed.
CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION:
How have you received from your elderly loved one? What have they taught you? How have you grown from the encounter?
CLICK TO TWEET