Mom and I loved to play Santa to children each year. We would always pick at least one name from the Giving Tree at church and sometimes one from the Giving Trees at work. We would plot and plan our shopping trip to figure out which store would make our money go the farthest because we were trying to buy as many items on each child's list.
This year, Mom and I went to the Mall to simply see the decorations and do a little "targeted shopping". The days of going to the Mall for hours and wandering around with Mom are gone. I push her in her wheelchair and we spend no more than an hour. It breaks my heart. My mother taught me how to shop!
On that day in early December, we had wandered around a bit, bought one or two things, looked at the decorations and were leaving when I spied the Salvation Army Giving Tree! I stood there reading every child's wish to my mother and then selected two children to shower with gifts!
As I shopped, my heart was full and broken at the same time. I missed my mom, who would often say "don't worry about the money, let's just get the gifts" when I was figuring out the best price, package, etc. So, I got the gifts. I bought everything on each child's list. (Let's not get crazy, I did establish a budget and maximized it.)
I told Mom and Dad about my shopping spree and how I had a large shopping bag of gifts for each of the children that included toys, clothes and of course Christmas PJ's. And all within budget! We laughed, smiled and felt the spirit of Christmas. That was our early Christmas Gift.
I know today that Mom gifted me her Giving Spirit. We didn't always have a lot growing up, but we always had enough. We always made time or resources available to give back. When we didn't have extra money, we gave our time. And we had extra money, we gave it. The Giving Spirit.
When I brought the bags of gifts back to the Mall for the Giving Tree, I was happy to give and sad that I was dragging the packages in by myself. My partner in crime was not with me. What I later realized was...Mom was with me, not in person, but in the Giving Spirit.
Do you have a favorite holiday memory with your Mom, Dad or caree? Holiday memories are special. I would love to hear your holiday memories. They are the stories that keep traditions alive! Please share the comments below.
Wishing you peace, love and beautiful memories, Deb
Welcome to Tuesdays with Mom. My goal is to share with you the tears, the laughter, the joys and the frustrations of being a part-time caregiver and a full-time advocate for my mother, Barbara. It's the hardest job I've ever had and yet the most rewarding. My hope is that we can start a conversation, learn from and support each other through this shared experience.
Being a caregiver for a family member is a individual journey, but we are not alone. According to a 2015 AARP study, there are approximately 15.7 million family caregivers in the US providing care for a person with Alzheimer's. Overall, there are nearly 40 million family caregivers who provide care to an adult family member.
If I have 40 million caregiving peers, why does it feel so lonely? It's time for me to reach out and share my stories with the intention of providing and receiving support.
My journey begins 5 years ago when my mother's health started to decline. In the Fall of 2012, she had a major diverticulitis attack which involved perforated intestines and a wicked infection. She spent a week in the hospital then came home with a PICC line for daily antibiotics and a drain for, you know, the infection. (Yuck). While we had the support of wonderful Visiting Nurses, Mom was under the care of Dad and me. We used to kid around that we were B and D Nursing (Bruce and Debbie) and we had no idea that we were predicting the future. That Fall, we made it through 2 months of daily antibiotics and care for Mom.
The night before Mom's surgery was difficult. Prepping for intestinal surgery is worse than preparing for a colonoscopy. Lots of laxatives and antibiotics. Mom has a very strong will and she refused to take some of the medicine. I spent hours with her, cajoling her to take the meds with little success. I made frantic calls to the nurses who assured me everything would be ok. At one point, in sheer frustration, I walked out of the house in tears and went to the mall to clear my head. My Dad was the hero that night, he sat with her, got her to take some of the meds and she eventually settled down and was able to sleep.
She had a lengthy intestinal surgery that was successful except for the part that she was under anesthesia for more than 6 hours. We've learned that anesthesia is not a good thing when potential neuro issues are present. Stay tuned for more on that part of the story.
My Dad is a Funeral Director and the nicest guy I know. He retired in 2008 and was asked to come back to work part-time in 2010. This part-time work was good for my Dad because in retirement, he and my Mom didn't have much to do. They worked hard all of their lives and didn't develop many hobbies.
Dad now works Tuesdays and Fridays, and is Mom's full-time caregiver. Over the past 5 years, when Mom was sick and Dad needed to work, I would spend the day with Mom. As her health has declined, we enrolled Mom is a local Adult Day Center (ADC) which was a great experience for her. At this time, she is unable to return to the ADC program and I spend Tuesdays and Fridays with Mom.
Recently, my boyfriend asked where I was going and I replied, "remember it's Tuesday with Mom". He said "that should be the name of your book" and I replied, "No, it should be the name of my new blog!" and this blog was born.
I hope you will join me here and share your experiences, advice, questions, concerns, tears and laughter. My intention is to create a space where we can support each other as caregivers.
Please leave a comment below. Share a thought, a story. Ask a question. Ask for support. You are not alone.
Wishing you peace, love and inspiration, Deb
Debbie is a wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend to many. She served as a part-time caregiver and full-time advocate for her mother, Barbara, who passed away from Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and Dementia in July 2018. Her mission is to help caregivers not only survive but thrive during their caregiving journey!