I was up early today for a drive with a little five-year old girl who has cerebral palsy. When I first heard about her two weeks ago, I volunteered to be her regular driver assuming that once I had the routine down it wouldn’t be so bad. That just shows how much I know. I’ve got the disassembly of the wheelchair down pretty good but getting it in and out of the trunk is taking a toll on my back. And moving a five year old between the car and chair is no small feat, for someone my age, but I’m still in one piece. The hardest part is not being able to communicate with her. I have no idea what she wants or needs or feels but those big brown eyes make me think she wants to tell me something.
As we were heading up the highway, I heard this song on my iPod and it kind of hit home. Where would we be without caregivers like the foster family that took this helpless little girl in and are surely struggling to take care of her? I’m responsible for her just a couple of hours a week but this family is on call 24/7 and the demands must be ridiculously hard on them. Having watched my Mom take care of my Dad for his last two years of life was a huge wake-up call for me and now I know first-hand what it takes to be the primary caregiver.
The bigger revelation was just how much the caregiver needs care too. So today’s lesson in humanity is pretty simple; find somebody who is the primary caregiver for another person either young or old and make sure that caregiver is taken care of by you. Don’t wait for their family or their church or the hospice people to show up, just knock on their door and offer your time. It may not be any more difficult than sitting next to the sick one just long enough for the caregiver to take a shower or go shopping. All of us can sit still for an hour and watch over someone, it’s a lot like TV really and most of us do that really well. You might have to wipe a runny nose or straighten up some pillows or listen to some really odd questions but it’s only an hour and then you can go back to your own busy life.
It doesn’t take much to find opportunities to help either. In my neighborhood we have an elderly couple behind me where the husband has had several strokes and his wife helps him do everything so I do their outside work, we have an older man who is mostly deaf and lives alone but always wants to talk to somebody so I let him ramble as often as I can, we have a couple in their 60’s who are raising their 2 grandsons and my wife is the backup mom for those kids, and then we have an elderly widow who just lost her husband so we all pitch in to take care of her yard.
I would be willing to bet your neighborhood looks a lot like mine with people getting by with a little help from their friends. Are you one of them?
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.