By Teresa Morrow
Caregiving seems like an easy to understand and straightforward word, right? You are giving care to someone else. When I discovered what it meant to be a caregiver, well, it was much more than I expected. Caregiving or being a caregiver compiles a monumental number of things you may not even understand or realize until you are deep in the journey.
When you are a caregiver, you have stepped into a place of honor. That’s not to minimize the time, effort, dedication, and unselfishness it takes to be a caregiver. However, for most of us, being a caregiver is something we are meant to do, without thought, when the time presents itself. Caregiving doesn’t have to mean there has been a diagnosis of a grave illness—you could be a devoted parent or grandparent being the protected guardian to a loved one. No matter the reason, event, or illness that brought you to a role of caregiver, the core of it remains the same—giving of your time, effort, and devotion for the sake of someone who is precious in your life.
My mom, Shirley Perkins, taught me the essence of being a caregiver.
As little kids, most of us remember our childhood filled with those sick times. I was one of those kids prone to getting ear infections. This one time I remember I had been to the doctor, got the medicine, and went off to bed. In the middle of the night, I woke up with excruciating pain in my ear. The tears began to run down my face as I stepped quietly into my mom’s room.
“Mommy?” I asked holding my hand over my ear.
Mom lifted her head and looked at me through sleepy eyes. “What is it honey?”
“My ear really hurts.” I replied as tears ran down my face.
Without another word, she lifted me up on the bed. She then gently laid my head in her lap and she began to stroke my hair. I remember her humming a sweet melody. Even though the pain in my ear was still there, the last thing I remembered was my mom’s hand stroking my head and hearing her humming softly. In the morning, my ear ache was gone, and I truly believe it is because my mom gave care to me from a pure place of love.
Fast forward about 32 years later. In November 2013, my mom was taken to the hospital because she was complaining of severe pains that started in her abdomen area and shot around to her back. She thought she must have pulled a muscle or had a pinched nerve. After my dad found her slumped over in her recliner holding her side, he got a friend to take mom to the hospital. Mom stayed in the hospital for about 10 days before we found out that she had stage-four lung cancer.
Our family was not the first, the only, or the last to hear the dreaded “C” word. It’s amazing how one single word can make your knees go weak and you feel like you’ve entered an alternate universe. My mom was the true matriarch of our family. My parents hosted many parties and gatherings, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, at their house, with my mom being the ever-gracious hostess. And in one doctor’s visit, the family’s world was turned upside down, as anyone who has dealt with a life-threatening illness will agree. The role of part-time caregiver to my mom (and my dad, as he didn’t drive anymore) was slated to me. And I was happy to become the chauffeur, part-time cook, cleaning help, oh, and, yes, “massage master.” My dad became the champion at the everyday needs of getting my mom’s pills and meals together. Adding to the cavalry of caregivers were my sister, Sheri; my brother, Neal; and my nieces, Amy and Jenny, who came in from out of state to help gather information, create medical charts, and provide meal planning and complimentary chauffeur duties, too.
With the chemo came good days where the pain subsided enough to where she would be up to playing her favorite card game, Five Crowns, and others she would eat very little and sleep most of the day. I remember one day when the pain just didn’t want to go away and she couldn’t seem to get comfortable enough to sleep. She turned to me, “Teresa, would you give me a back rub?”
Without hesitation, I helped her into her bedroom, allowed her to lie down, and began to rub her back. She would make this soft sigh on each exhale. I rubbed and I rubbed and, after about 20 minutes, she finally fell asleep.
Later that night after she had a light dinner, she thanked me for rubbing her back. I responded by saying,
“I was just returning the favor.”
She raised her head and asked, “What are you talking about? Moms are supposed to take care of kids, but you didn’t have to do that for me.”
I felt that I may not be able to convince her that she deserved the back rub, so I reminded her of the time she showed me what caregiving was all about when I had the worst ear ache ever and how she selflessly took care of me. I held her hand in mine, smiled and said,
“I was honored to do it. I learned from the best.”
A Caregiver’s Pledge
Thank you for the honor
To be with you
And here I’ll stay
Through the rough patches
Scratches and “crashes”
To witness the smiles, giggles
I’ll be by your side
To be a comfort, support
Because as a caregiver
It’s an honor
That will be delivered
Teresa Morrow began her life as a symbol of inspiration; born under special circumstances weighing a little over one pound compounded with severe heart issues. In her teens, she was introduced to the world of writing when she submitted a poem for creative writing class which got featured in the school yearbook. Her professional background has expanded from working in the corporate world as an executive assistant to starting her own business in 2007. She held onto her love of writing and has authored two books, ‘Life Lessons from the Heart’ and ‘Healing from Broken Trust’. Along with her writing, she works with fellow spiritual authors to provide online book visibility and coaching services. Currently, she is the host of a radio show host titled, “Inspiration Nation” where she “creates inspiration through the world of words. Find out more at TeresaMorrow.com or TheAuthorsCheerleader.com.
This article is a chapter from the book Transform Your Life! written by 60 real-life heroes and experts and available at Amazon.com, BN.com, www.Transformation-Publishing.com and all ebook formats.