My Mother, Myself and Our Doggie

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Donna Norman, Georgia

I am taking this opportunity to share my story and to vent.  Because, I realize now that I am not indestructible.  And in my quiet, internal, personal undoing, I see that some of the decisions that I have made, recently, may be driven by NOT venting — or having others with whom to vent who would listen... really, really listen.

This is a story about myself and my mom.  That is how I define myself now: mom and me.  We are not alone in our walk together because we have a beautiful pure-white Labrador retriever (pure-bred), who, unbeknownst to himself, provides safety and security to us... 24/7.  All night long... and all day long, faithfully.

Even now, I must stop and help mom with an essential function... so I will be right back...

I am back. Forgive the pause. I am now here for approximately 6 minutes... that is when mom's evening meal will be ready from the oven.  So I am writing as quickly as I can.

Suffice it to say, I now am a full-time care-giver; whereas, before, I was a hard driven career professional. I spent 34 years in the trenches, working in leadership roles with my sleeves rolled-up, while striving for higher education along the way.

But now I think I am not smart or strong.  You see, no one can understand what it really takes to be a caregiver, until you experience the grit, the pain, the loss, and... the inconceivable joy derived from just being there, in the moment, when a loved one needs you.

Within the past 10 years, I have personally set myself aside, and cared for dad, who was always ill with heart-disease or cancer. In his final 12 years, he fought the good fight against cancer and finally succumb in April, 2011... right before Easter. That was interesting in that he was a Minister and so loved the church and people.  While the dogwoods were blooming, we laid him to rest in a beautiful place befitting such a gentleman.

Now I care for mom, full-time.  Granted, before, I was a hard pressed business woman. But the calling to take care of my parents, my home, my hearth, was too great.  They were not something that could be replaced or regained in time.

So here I am. Mom, Me, and our doggie.  Yes, I do have other siblings, but we are all in our 60's.  And my siblings cannot, or either, do not want to commit at the same level of attention.  They too are career professionals with grown career-oriented children.

My experience with mom and dad is not limited to just every day care. It includes sleeping on hospital floors, hospital chairs, and anxiously peeking-into hospital door windows, within restricted care units, while hoping for a glance of either dad or mom when they were infirmed. I followed them into and out of critical care, intermediate care, and finally to general floor release.  And these events did not occur in any semblance of order... one minute we had graduated from intermediate care, and then the following day, we were right back into critical care.  I felt like a yo-yo. And we were in many differing hospitals, at differing times, throughout these types of events.

Now dad has passed and not a day goes by when we still morn his loss but know that he is in a better place and watching over us. Perhaps putting in a good word for us with the big guy upstairs.

Thank you for just listening.