From Pages’ Past 2004
“I love flipping through cooking magazines, day dreaming about the wonderful meals I am going to prepare. However, I know it is only a dream. I barely have time to get a batch of pancakes thrown on the griddle before my duty, as a caregiver, pulls me in another direction. Is duty even the correct word? Responsibility or love might fit better.
I tell myself, “It’s my duty to keep my brother out of the nursing home, it’s my duty to pick up where my mother left off, it is my duty to God to care for my brother. No, maybe love is the better word, I love my brother and mother. I love God. I love family.”
My ride as a caregiver ended in 2014, these are my stories—“The Care Givers Ride, Journaling through the heart of the caregiver.”
As a child, I would write in my diary, then as a young adult I would fill the pages of decorated journals. All those adventures and emotions are now trashed.
However, one batch of my scribbles, remain, my book, “The Unbreakable Cord.” My account of my daughter’s car accident. At the time, the events were so overwhelming, I isolated myself from my feelings and emotions. Using a stuffed dog, Woody, as my voice, I began journaling. I gave the little fluffy dog a personality and I channeled all my fear through him.
Fifteen years later, I was encouraged to share my experience. You may be wondering what does writing a book and care giving must do with each other? looking back they seem the same, not the experience, but the fear, the questions.
Different genres fill the writing field and the same is with caregiving. The dictionary describes genre, “a category of artistic composition.” That is us care givers, artistic composition. We adapt, we paint new pictures, we create. We become the noun in our loved one’s world. (I will share some of the things my family created to help with my brother’s care throughout my blog, and I hope you will also share some of your creations and tips with readers.)
Some of you are beginning your novel while others are in the middle, but some of you are writing the last chapter. Maybe you story is a short story. For others, their caregiving novel is a series, with one character leaving to only be replaced with another.
I lived the pages of a suspense novel, with the main characters, a disabled brother, an injured daughter, and an ageing Mom filling each page of my journal with adventure.
So, in this blog, I am using punctuation to ride through the caregiver’s heart. Punctuation marks tell the reader when to speed up, slow down, when to stop and even what to expect coming. I am starting with the question mark. The writing rules of a question mark: Use after sentence that asks a question, use to mark uncertainty or doubt.
When it was suggested I turn the pages of my scribbles into a book, questions and doubt consumed me. “I can’t write, I can’t even spell correctly, and I sure don’t know how to write a book.” So, I went to a writing conference and words were thrown at me that was never in my daily vocabulary. Different rules—all different depending on your choice of genre. The same with caregiving, no stoke victim or person struggling with Parkinson are the same Was I smart enough to learn the craft? Could I find the time? Was I willing to fail? Looking back, these are the same questions that attacked me when I stepped into the caregiving role of my disabled brother. I didn’t know if I was strong enough to handle the ‘nursy’ thing required of me. My vocabulary filled with new words, Colostomy, bed sores, feeding tubes, and rules again became my guide. I had to ask myself, “Am I willing to give up my dreams to take this ride?” A ride without a roadmap. A ride, I knew that only had one destination.
My support group became doctors and nurses. I asked the nurse questions, made her slow down and explain. Things that were easy for her, I found difficult. My appointment calendar became my journal.
So, when it came to writing my book, I told myself, I can learn the craft. I needed to know the rules. I surrounded myself with writing crique groups and friends who encouraged me through the rejections of my manuscript. I even paid to have my final manuscript edited, some rules I just couldn’t get.
For me caregiving and writing are the same, I could only do my best. I know for myself, focusing on one chapter or one doctor’s visit was all I could manage on some days. As time passed, questions became less and I moved into each assignment with a little more confidence. However, the work didn’t stop.
I think a lot of caregivers are overwhelmed with questions and have no one to ask. I also know there is that spouse out there taking care of their partner and is drowning in loneliness.
My hope is in this weekly blog, The Care Givers Ride, it will be a listening ear for your questions. You may not get an answer, but I know for myself, just bringing that question to the surface is freeing. I invite you to write on this page, sometimes just being able to say, it’s overwhelming, or whatever your heart is feeling. As a past caregiver, I understand. I hope you will join with me and other readers.
Start by using your appointment book as your journal. Use a punctuation mark to note the feeling about that day, that doctors visit, that loneliness. Then when you have five-minutes free time open your journal and expand on that punctuation mark. Be honest with yourself. Remember, a journal is for your eyes only. Do not worry about the rules of writing.
My goal is to post a new blog every Sunday, next week it is on the exclamation point. Thank you for reading my blog and I do look forward to hearing from you.