My mom just finished an almost week long stay in the hospital, and I have been feeling like a wet noodle. My heart goes out to everyone caring for their aging parents. It’s a long hard ride.
While I didn’t have time to post, the smallest spurts of working in the garden kept my feet on the ground when I thought I was going to lose it. I spent most of the week poised for action, waiting for doctors to call, researching options, and trying to stick by my mom while she was scared and disoriented.
At the hospital, the story about what was wrong and what was going to happen next changed by the hour, and I was in a constant state of readiness, trying to make sure I made the right decisions and communicated as much as possible with the doctors. I couldn’t have made it through last week if it wasn’t for my son, who spent as much time at the hospital as I did, was there for the discharge, and brought healthy food for my mom because the food there was inedible.
She has been back home for a couple of days, and while the transition was really hard, last night she sounded content. This caregiving odyssey is a long one, and there’s no telling how long it will last. I need to treasure the time we have together while making sure I continue to take care of myself. I have immense gratitude for all the caregivers who have been there for my mom and allowed me to continue to work and have a life.
The simple faith of planting seeds, watering them, trusting that some of them will come to fruition was really comforting when my mind couldn’t think anymore. Somehow the small responsibilities are reassuring when the much larger ones are overwhelming.
When I was at my most stressed, I also called the Family Caregiver Alliance and talked to someone there who reiterated that I needed to make it a priority to take care of myself. Working in the garden gave me that simple solace to keep going when it seemed I could not.
I have been reading Gail Sheehy’s excellent Passages in Caregiving, and am comforted by the fact that I am not alone, that there are others who have a much heavier load than I do. Nothing could have prepared me for this journey, but for those of you who are on the same path, it’s a really good resource. I also have found comfort in reading anything by Anne Lamott.
Today I had a much needed day off, went to one of my favorite gardens, saw a good friend, went swimming in the ocean, and started the day with a yoga class that affirmed my (our) capacity for strength through hardship. What a gift!